Every so often, across photography groups, I see the same question pop up. “I work full time, I have a family, and I cannot find time for my photography” or something similar. If you are in this boat, hopefully this article will give you some ideas that will help you out.
I do not think I could go forward with this without putting a little bit of myself out there. I am the married father of a 9 year old, I work full time and I also have a small photography business. At one point, I actually had another business on the side. I finally let that one go as it became something I was not happy doing. With everything going on, it would seem like chaos would break loose at the wrong time.
Several years ago, I ran across a blog piece. Written by a well known photographer, he covered his daily schedule. This schedule included blocks of time for answering messages, returning phone calls, yoga, walks outside, snacks and so on. Having just left a position at my current employer where chaos was the norm, this schedule made so much sense to me that if I was ever in the position of implementing something like it, I would and well, I sort have done it with my photography.
I do several portrait sessions and weddings a year. In the spring, fall and winter, I can only schedule these on the weekends and I work two weekends out of the month, so my booking availability is real limited.
Here are some tips that help me breath between life and photography.
JOIN A POSITIVE PHOTOGRAPHY GROUP
This might be outside of the box for what this topic is, but let me explain. Finding a positive photography group can do wonders for you. The hard part is finding that group.
There has to be several thousand photography groups on Facebook alone. Groups dedicated to camera brands, accessories, technique and everything in between. While there is some subjectivity on how to determine the positivity of a group, you have to find the one that fits you. Some groups are like the Improve Photography groups, where people come together to discuss all aspects of photography, while helping us hone our skills. There are other groups where the overall atmosphere is negative. Places where each and every image is going to get critique by someone and inevitably, an argument will ensue.
Local photo clubs are good places to look, but just like groups on Facebook, each group will have their own dynamic. Some are pretty laid back, while others are formal. There are benefits to each, and there are drawbacks to each. What you can do though test the waters and you might make a connection within the club with another photographer that will allow you to grow and learn. In fact, the second shooter I use for weddings is a person I met in my local club. For me, being a part of the club has pushed myself to grow and become better.
MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
The last time I saw a post in a group about finding time for photography, the poster lamented about working full time, doing the family thing and having no time for their photography. Although a large part of photography is getting out into the field and clicking the shutter, a large part is also educating yourself.
Improvising can do wonders. There have been times, late at night when I have setup in my office just to shoot some still life images, whether it be a coin or a small toy. A couple of times a year, I will head out into my yard and shoot macro for a few minutes. Macro is not something that has been on my radar, but just getting outside for a few shots has done wonders.
My second shooter that I spoke of has a camera with her all the time, and I am not talking about a phone camera either. She is always shooting. Even with a phone camera, you can spend a minute or two reeling off a good shot with it. Next time when you want a snapshot of the kids, take a second or two and work that image. BINGO, you have just practiced photography.
Another thing you can do that will not take more than a few minutes is hop onto Youtube and watch a quick video on just about anything photography you want. AdoramaTV has an entire series of short videos that you can view. I recently shot a wedding and my goal is to have the wedding wrapped up by the end of this month. The day after, I had a day off from my full time job. I took the day to fill my desire for one last Milky Way shot.
You cannot always take the opportunity, but you should always at least try, even it's only for a couple short minutes each day.
LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERYDAY
This goes along with MAKING TIME FOR YOURSELF. If you are just getting into photography, or even if you are very experienced, make it a point to learn something everyday. Read a blog post about a technique, watch a video about posing, or catch a review about a new lens that is coming out. With the resources that are available to us in this day and age, education is not hard to find.
GET YOUR REST
No one buy yourself knows how much sleep you need on a daily basis. At times, I find myself burning both ends of the candle, but it is a rarity. You have to identify what needs your main focus. Is it your kids, or could it be your full time job? You want to be able to satisfy all the needs, and you want to satisfy your photographic desires, but you have to make sure you have to get your rest also. You might be to pull off working an 8 hour day, come home and spend 4 hours with the family, and then another couple of hours processing images from the latest shoot. But do you really want to be doing the head bob at 11:30pm while trying to make a fine selective adjustment in Photoshop?
BE OBSESSED WITHOUT BEING OBSESSIVE
Are you going to be broken hearted if the latest sunset image you created garners 2 likes on Facebook? Are you going to be mad if you cannot attend a workshop in some scenic locale? There is a saying that I try to live by, “it is what it is.” I go days without clicking the shutter and I go days without posting an image on social media. That is my happy place. I make everything in my life between my life to mesh together to work like a well oiled machine. Well that might be an overstatement, but you get the point. There are techniques that I want to learn that I have had to put on hold for a time. In the past this would have bothered me, it doesn't now.
There came a point where photography was no longer fun for me. I was near the point of selling my gear because I had forgotten the first rule, “have fun.” I brought myself out of that funk, but I imagine there are people that pulled that trigger and someone got a great price on some great gear. Just because you have had to take a hiatus from shooting, or cannot find time to learn a technique does not mean you are a failure. If you remember my first two articles for Improve Photography, it was about motorsports photography. As of this writing, I am nearing two years since shooting my last motorsports event. Priorities take precedence and when it's a day long drive to do it, my motivation factor goes down. Someday, I will be back at the track.
Do not lose sight of what your goals are, and do not lost sight as to why you took up photography. Remain positive, squash the negativity and remember, it is what it is.