Creativity and Corona: How I learned to stay inspired during a lockdown
It's Day 7 of India's lockdown. A whole week of social isolation has left me feeling stir crazy, cooped up in an apartment where I have no creative outlet. Here's how I learned to break through my creative bottleneck while in isolation.
India has been under lockdown for a week. As a content creator, this has hit me particularly hard: I found myself caged in, unable to explore, to create.
How can a photographer tell stories within the confines of four walls?
Over the past week, I found myself experimenting with light, taking still life shots, rearranging my apartment to find my aesthetic.
None of it satisfied me the way photography usually does.
You see, to someone like me, a photo is most beautiful when it is perfectly curated, when it has beautiful people, when it is alive or arranged. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how many pots I rearranged, I simply could not find that inside my house.
I could feel my soul longing to step out.
Because I, as a photographer and explorer, hit the road every time I get a day off, I've hardly ever spent time at home. My apartment has just the bare necessities - an empty 2 BHK on the 12th floor, in a gated society on the Delhi border - and I've never spent time looking for beauty from my roost up here.
I always found beauty in cafes, in markets, in antique shops and museums.
Never here, not until now.
At my creative wits' end, late yesterday evening, I drifted towards my balcony - a space I never venture into.
As I said, I hardly ever go there because it's usually filled with pigeon fluff and the sounds of children shouting. It has always been full of sights I learned to ignore.
But I felt pulled towards it.
You see, when I started spending the whole day at home, I started noticing things around me: like how my puppy spends her day, how she keeps her spirits up despite being in a concrete cage for days on end.
And I realised, she spends the majority of her time looking out from the balcony.
She always seemed mesmerised by the sights out there - and I could never figure out why.
So for the first time ever, I stepped out. I followed Hazelnut Cappuccino (Hazy for short) into my grimy, dusty, hot balcony; where the harsh light usually bounces off white tiles to create deep shadows in my room.
My puppy was quite confused - this was her space, I never use it.
I felt intensely uncomfortable. It was loud, and my neighbors could see me from their own balconies. They were all out there - holding children, nursing mugs of tea, all watching.
I looked down, to a balcony near me, and saw hair hanging off a bougainvillea bush; and I shuddered in disgust.
But even through my disgust, I saw how beautifully the light touched those petals, how shadows just kissed the stems.
And the moment just clicked.
I ran inside to grab my camera, and started shooting; for the first time in days, I saw something beautiful: Life.
There was so much to see!
It felt like light dawning on me: Our doors may be locked, but our eyes are not.
People were playing, having fun.
People were milling around, at a safe distance, but the power of human connection, the strength of community was palpable.
Each one of them, with the quiet strength of spirits that stayed high despite troubling times, told me one thing without saying a single word: This too shall pass.
Seeing them stay strong taught me the most important lesson I've learned this week.
That's all it took.
My eyes were open again.
To all the other creatives out there: This isn't going to be easy at all. We're going through a monumental health crisis, and this pandemic is extremely dangerous. But by staying inside, staying safe, staying sane; we're doing really well. We're protecting ourselves and each other.
And for those of you who were feeling as stir crazy as I was - don't worry. You can still explore from right where you are.
It's simply a matter of finding the right perspective.
Stay home. Stay safe. Stay inspired.