Words & Photography by Sina Filipowski
2020. The year I decided to make photography my profession. Just as the pandemic hit Europe. Jobs got cancelled. Projects had to be postponed. Dreams were on hold.
My dream was to follow the winter to Australia and New Zealand and to focus on photography, a passion I discovered only two years ago. Instead I stayed at home in Austria, worrying what the future might bring.
By the end of summer I finally got the chance to work for The Stomping Grounds in Saas Fee – an uplifting experience after a dreary six months. Early morning calls, up to 14 hour long working days, freezing and windy conditions. Even though my German side can tend to complain about the weather or the heavy camera backpack – working as a photographer has always been my absolute dream job, which makes me forget about time and how exhausted I am. Every time.
I got into photography shortly after I began snowboarding, at the rather late age of 24. On some days you can still see me catching an edge or struggling to hold balance on the T-Bar, yet somehow I think still being new to the scene and not knowing everything about snowboarding and skiing gives me the advantage of having a different perspective on it.
When I got home after almost a month on the glacier I felt like I needed to take a short break. That short break turned into weeks and suddenly not only Austria but also my creativity and excitement for photography went into lockdown. I started questioning my work and if I’m currently creating the kind of photos I want to create. When you’re still at the beginning it’s quite hard to stay confident. Being constantly surrounded by the work of talented photographers can be extremely overwhelming at times, without being dragged away. It’s a thin line between finding inspiration and trying not to compare your work to others.
We’ve all been there. Everyone who works in a creative field knows that feeling. I talked to a couple people about it including photographers and filmmakers I admire to find out how they deal with the constant pressure of being creative. Three things I got told which helped me the most I can briefly summarize because I think they speak for themselves: Consistency to let ideas and originality become more natural; finding passion projects to keep just to yourself for some time without any pressure to publish everything right away and reevaluating and getting a fresh and new perspective on previous work to figure out how to improve.
After almost three months in which I failed to use my camera once, I went up to our local resort Nordkette. I was all alone up there, the mountain fully covered in beautiful clouds. Sometimes a few sun rays would shine through and make the groomed slopes and the slightly snowy air sparkle, unlike anything I had seen before. The deep snow on the sides had almost a perfect symmetrical pattern of tracks of enjoyment, after the heavy snowfalls the days before. It was too beautiful to capture it on the camera.]\
Capturing those kinds of days and moments is one of the most special things about photography for me. The few snapshots I took that day made me realise again how much I love doing this, even though it’s not always easy to work in a creative field. It’s tough and challenging – the creative part, the business part, the confidence part.
The pandemic has last a year now and I’ve learned a lot about myself during this time. What I think now is – feeling stuck might be exactly what we need sometimes. We need it in order to grow and to remind ourselves to continue chasing our dreams. And to never give up on the goals we have set ourselves for the future.