When speaking with other non-pro photographers, one of the biggest and most common struggles is simply how to find time in our busy lives to get out and make photographs.
A decade ago I was living alone with no dependents and, even with full time employment, I had plenty of time to commit to photography. And be a salsa addict and teacher. But that’s another story.
These days, married with a nine year old daughter and nearly five year old son, my days are somewhat more filled. But I still find time for photography. Here’s how.
First, let’s get more specific about what I mean about “photography time”. As I see it there are four main areas. I want to talk a bit about each of them, and how I find time to commit to them.
Research and Inspiration
This covers looking at other people’s photography via books, online and in person, and finding what inspires and excites us. It also includes researching particular cameras and/or lenses, not so much for me about the dry technical spec, but more about how others feel about using them, and what they’ve been able to create with them.
I find time for this fairly easily because it’s something you can do in very small chunks. In a tea break at work, in the evening when the children are in bed, when waiting to collect the kids from somewhere and more.
Social and Sharing
I consider this to be how and where I share not only my photographs but my thoughts about particular cameras and lenses, and photography in general. So my own blog here at 35hunter and my Flickr, as well as my favourite blogs and Flickr streams of other photographers I like and talk with.
This can also be very bite size and done in a few minutes. To write a blog post or share a batch of photos with tags and description takes longer. I nearly always do this in the evening when the kids are in bed and when I haven’t got a particular activity committed with my wife. I prefer to write a blog post in one go, so I’d rather spend a couple of hours in one evening then none for a few evenings than say 30 mins over four or five consecutive nights.
Editing and Processing
Even with the most minimal of processing (which I strive for with both film and digital!) you still have to edit your photos in some way. This for me means importing into LightRoom, exporting those I like to JPEG from RAW, then deleting all the others, then a second or third sort through the JPEGs to find my absolute favourites. The digital processing part for me is virtually non-existent, the RAW files from my Pentax K DSLRs seem to work well with LightRoom’s simple JPEG export and give me results I love.
I try to make time for editing and processing as soon as I can after taking the photographs. Mostly it’s that evening, again when the house contains at least two sleeping bodies, if not three. It doesn’t take long – a batch of say 100 photos from a a few hours shooting might take 15 mins to scan through, keep the best and ditch the rest.
Ah, the big one, without which we can’t claim to be a photographer at all – the time we’re actually making pictures with camera in hand. I have two main approaches – one is a short walk for maybe a handful of snapshots and little expectation. These usually occur during lunch breaks at work, sometimes on the way to or from work. Sometimes a local short walk in the evening if the weather and light is conducive.
The second approach is a more deliberate and lengthy photowalk, usually at the weekend. My partner has a few leisure and additional work commitments throughout the week and weekends where I look after the kids, so when we swap roles I virtually always use the time (typically a couple of hours) to drive to one of my favourite haunts and photograph. A 15-30 min drive plus 60-90 mins photograph is usually enough for me – beyond that my eyes get tired, the magic starts to fade, and I start to feel I’m photographing just for the sake of it.
So this is how I find time for photography.
I certainly don’t spend endless hours or all day sojourns on photography. But by having maybe one committed lengthier photowalk each week plus a couple of evenings for the editing and processing and social and sharing elements, then fitting snippets of research and inspiration in quiet moments in between, I’m able to, most of time, find enough time for my love of photography to keep me sane.
I would add that I try to keep my life pretty stripped down and simple on the whole.
The major things I do in my life are sleep, eat, work, spend time with my wife and family, photograph (all the above activities under that umbrella), write, read and listen to music. I have simple exercise routines – a daily morning yoga practice and an almost daily brisk walk I slot in too. But that’s about it.
This is by choice – I do fewer things, and I try to do them better.
And it means those things I do choose to make time for, I can give a worthwhile effort and commitment to, rather than halfheartedly dabbling in a 20 different activities and not really giving much to (or getting much from) any of them.
A final note about a major way I freed up more time.
I’ve virtually given up eBay. A few months back I was probably spending half an hour per item I photographed and listed for sale, and another 30 minutes on packaging and taking to the Post Office. When you’re selling a dozen items a month say, that’s a lot of time.
Plus just stepping off the binge purge repeat hamster wheel in recent weeks has been so refreshing.
As well as saving time not listing and selling, I’m not spending further hours a week scouring eBay for potential bargains and/or lenses I have only known about for five minutes but now suddenly absolutely desperately need in my collection to have any chance of being a decent photographer. You probably know that feeling.
Aside from the time saved, I don’t have that unpleasant and ever present anxiety of seeing cameras and lens overflowing my shelves and in boxes waiting to be sold.
It took me a while to get there, but now making use of what I have (the still not unsubstantial two film bodies, three digital bodies and 15 odd lenses that make up my core kit) and letting go of the chase has been enlightening.
I hope you find this post of some interest and it encourages you to look at how you can find more time for photography.
But right now, how do you find time for photography? Which different activities do you consider combine to make up your overall passion for photography? Let us know in the comments below.
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