Photography Fasting – Are There Any Benefits?

In the last six months I haven’t made anything like as many photographs as in any similar period in perhaps six or seven years. 

Partly this is because I just feel settled on the kit I now use.

Because I haven’t bought a new (to me) camera since July, I’ve not been constantly in camera tester mode, desperate to try out my latest acquisitions to see if they’re one percent “better” than the 97% wonderful cameras I already have.

To put this into context, in 2017 I bought about 25 cameras and 50 lenses.

In other words, now I know the cameras I have well enough to understand what they can do, when I do use them, it’s with deliberate intention, not just to rattle off some test shots or to make photographs to share to prove I’m still making photographs.

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I got to wondering though, whilst my photographic output has slowed naturally, and for reasons as stated above, might there be some further benefit to a more specific photography fast?

What if I deliberately didn’t photograph at all for, say, a month? 

At the end of it would I be desperate to return and snap like crazy for days to make up for it?

Would I have adapted to not making photographs with a camera, and made do with the photographs I always make in my head anyway, and consider extending the fast further?

What I like about my recent slow down in making photographs is that it feels completely on my own terms.

I’m using cameras when I want to, not when I feel I should.

That sense of control – but more than this the feeling of doing something without analysing why, when and how you’re doing it (or who you’re doing it for) – is a place I’m really enjoying being in.

I don’t feel the need for a more structured fast right now, but it’s something hovering in my mind for a potential future experiment.

How about you? Have you ever deliberately fasted from photography for a period of time? How did it go?

Is it something you’d consider trying if/when you felt stuck, or you felt you were just shooting for the sake of it without any real purpose or enjoyment?

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography and cycling life looks like right now.

22 thoughts on “Photography Fasting – Are There Any Benefits?”

  1. I have not fasted from photography, but I stopped publishing my blog for a month recently as you’ll recall — and it helped me think intentionally about what I get from blogging, for better and for worse. It was worth it.

      1. I have abandoned my old post pattern of MWF being “real” post days and TTh being “single frame” days and am just now posting whatever whenever. I’m in a bit of a creative spurt right now so I have plenty of stuff queued, but when this ends I will allow myself to have days when I don’t post.

        1. It’s always about finding the balance between writing frequently but not forcing it if nothing’s there.

          Although I read virtually all of your posts, I confess I hadn’t noticed the pattern, the only one I was aware of was Saturday’s post is your weekly blog/article round up.

          I have mixed feelings about the “single frame” with no words posts (on my blog) as they seem to get so little interest.

          1. Noted. I haven’t done a one frame on here for ages, I might try with a few words and see how it goes. I do think it’s useful to change the pace and length and posts generally, keep things fresh!

          2. Dan, I love your single frame. I will try and remember to comment. I find it more of a piece where I can sit in stillness and just appreciate but I am seeing you would like a comment xoxo susanJOY

          3. Thanks Susan. I’m not entirely sure I expect lots of comments on the One Frame posts, in fact I’m not, because I’m not directly asking any questions of the reader. These posts get very few views, so I wonder sometimes if it’s worth sharing them at all.

  2. Dan, As you know I have tried the “be creative intentionally every day” “produce so much creativity each day” and it just doesn’t work with me. My creativity becomes a chore and hard work and lacks joy. I love being creative, like taking photos when I feel like it, when it is something I enjoy framing up or having the end result of a photo I will enjoy later say as a wallpaper or a hard copy in my home. I gain much pleasure and joy working in this way and it is what I go after xoxo susanJOY

    1. Hi Susan, yes I’ve always been an advocate of creating every day, but over the years this has evolved, or perhaps relaxed is a better word.

      I would now say, rather than create every day, if we do something that’s connected with our creative passions in some way, it keeps that momentum without it becoming a chore.

      For example a photographer might not take pictures every day, but maybe day one they take some photos, day two and three enjoy some photography books, day four they review and edit some photos, day five take more photos, day six write a blog post for their photography blog, day seven view some online photography tutorials. And so on.

      1. Dan, thanks for your comment about creating in different ways each day. I hadn’t thought of my viewing my photos every day as being creative but I guess it does give me ideas for future photos etc and a springboard for other ideas. As you know I do write every day and now I realise I do photography every day. how awesome xoxo susanJOY

  3. I have not done this on purpose, but I hardly took any pictures this Summer. After a series of disappointing rolls this Spring I just lost any desire to take pictures for a few months. Lately I have been trying to get used to my digital cameras, with mixed results. The weather has been really terrible here this year, and I haven’t done nearly as much photography, or cycling as I would like.

    1. Hi Jon, thanks for your input.

      Why do you think the digital results have been mixed? Is it because your unfamiliar as yet with the camera(s)?

      Yeh the weather can be very frustrating. We’ve been very lucky this year over the summer in terms of dryness, but for weeks it was just too hot to want to go out walking for hours.

      But then in England we love to complain about the weather whatever it is!

  4. Hi Dan, great topic. I find, now that I have been shooting film again, I am shooting less and feeling more and more comfortable with that. I usually always carry a camera with me but I don’t feel the constant need to produce and share any longer. I seem to be a bit more selective. I feel like the time between shooting and viewing my films has benefited this greatly, for me. It has been rather liberating, I have to say.

    1. Hi Lisa, thanks for your thoughts. I think a great proportion of people who try film after shooting digital for years find a similar thing, how it slows them down and makes them more discerning about what they photograph, rather than taking a dozen near identical shots of the same scene with digital.

      I certainly went through that, and thankfully have been able to take that kind of philosophy back to digital.

      Great to hear how liberating it’s been for you!

      1. Yes it has been liberating. Good point you make about taking back to digital. I do notice this, since I still shoot digital also. I did write an article on my blog about why I shoot film again. Your posts are very thoughtful and provoking. Keep it up.

  5. Well, now: the idea of a photographic fast is startling and for myself, a little outlandish. Would that I could.

    I have rather the opposite problem – a photographic famine.

    There is a want of talent and originality. I am a great admirer of the art, of all art, really, and the longing to do it is very strong, but I have, ah, slight gifts. It is like my singing. I sing in company enthusiastically, passionately. But I have scant range and little reach and I truly cannot sing. I just badly want to. Brio alone has some modest satisfactions, but I do not kid myself that it is the real thing. Similarly, fifty years of trying has not released my inner Emmet Gowin. I accept that this is something one is born with and not purchased, with money or hard effort.

    This discussion is in a language I do not speak, and concerns an idea I cannot understand. Is there a little subtext about a professionalism of restraint, a diet of discipline in practice? Is that it?

    (Dan, the shot at the head of this post; the slash of crushed blacks at the lower half, the hooks, the clarity of unidentifiable objects: is this a torture chamber or a bicycle hung on a shed wall? Shivering mystery!

    1. Interesting. Any kind of photographic competence or talent wasn’t really a consideration for this post. However “good” we are, we can surely still enjoy the activity? Not many people truly excel at the hobbies they have, they do it for the love of doing it and perhaps the surrounding aspects like sharing the passion with others.

      I do strive to make photographs I’m proud of and want to share, but that’s quite a small proportion of the overall set of reasons I photograph.

      I think for me some restraint is definitely necessary if I ever want to do anything with the photographs I make. If I just churned out hundreds a week I would be overwhelmed with the editing, sorting and processing and probably end up not looking at any of them.

      The photograph top of post is meant to retain some mystery, so I’m glad that comes across! In a favourite local church they have padded cushions for kneeling on during prayer, and when not in use they hang on these little hooks on the back of the pew in front. So not a bike no, but perhaps for some, sometimes a device of torture…

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