Camera Boredom And How To Escape

Apparently there’s a phenomenon known as “phone bored”. This is how one article defines it –

“Phone boredom occurs when you’re technically “on your phone,” but you’re still bored out of your mind. It’s that feeling when you’re mindlessly clicking around, opening and closing apps, looking for something to do digitally and finding the options uninteresting.”

So this got me thinking about times when I’ve been flitting from camera to camera, not really finding satisfaction in any.

These occasions might last for a few minutes, as, ready and time rich, I survey my camera shelf for the most appealing machine to join me as my comrade on my latest photowalk.

Or it might be a period that that spans days, even weeks, as each camera I choose and take out with me somehow leaves me unfulfilled and wanting something else.

Perhaps it’s not something more that I’m looking for, as each camera (and arguably every camera, even those you hated) has its own possibilities and potential.

It’s more likely I’m seeking something different, an alternative challenge or thrill or experience, sometimes even when the cameras I have I greatly enjoy, and deliver photographs I’m more than happy with.

Inevitably, this kind of dissatisfaction is a shortcut to unhappiness, whether you already have three, 33 or 333 cameras to choose from.

Is it possible during these times I’ve become “camera bored”?

Or is the root more likely a disinterest or indifference to photography as a whole?

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When we consider something to be a great passion of ours, it can be surprising, even disconcerting to even contemplate that perhaps there will be periods when we’re “bored” with it.

And to accept that perhaps sometimes the best way forward is not just to buy more new kit to try to rekindle the joy, but in fact quite the opposite, to strip back down to the basics, with a refreshed perspective.

It might even be time to have a break from photography entirely, and just objectively observe without judgement what you miss about it, and what you don’t.

Personally, I can’t recall a time where I’ve given up photography entirely for years. But I’ve certainly felt periods of being “camera bored”.

Like those who are phone bored from having too much choice (the “phone bored” article suggests users “sometimes open and close up to 20-30 apps, hoping that something, anything, will catch their attention“), any camera boredom I’ve experienced has almost always been during phases where I’ve been buying more and more gear, then not had enough time to try it all, struggled to choose, then ended up not enjoying any of it.

So perhaps for me (as with those bored phone users), the issue wasn’t boredom, but a kind of options overload.

It wasn’t that there was nothing to do, but that there were so many possibilities, I couldn’t settle on and engage with just one.

This feeling has always been solved by picking one or two cameras and using just those for a sustained period, putting all other cameras out of sight, which helps shift that “options overload” out of my mind.

How about you? Do you ever feel camera bored? If so, what do you do to rekindle your interest?

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).

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16 thoughts on “Camera Boredom And How To Escape”

  1. What an interesting question. I’ve found boredom to be like the red nearly empty indicator on the car fuel gauge. I can choose to ignore and drive for a while but eventually I will have to pull over onto the hard shoulder of boredom. Or I can choose to take action and refuel.
    In photography terms that could mean a number of different things. Some find limiting themselves to one camera, genre of photography or start a project ‘refuels’ them.
    Personally I’ve found since using film and home developing with all its uncertainty keeps me from going into the ‘red’ and topped .
    Andrew

  2. Even though I only shoot film (so I’m admittedly biased), I think if one is shooting digitally and gets bored, picking up a fully manual film camera, loading a roll of black and white film, shooting it in a slow and relaxed manner, and then processing it themselves by hand is a great way to cure boredom. It forces one to return to the foundations of their hobby, and I think it reminds them why they love photography in the first place. Despite always shooting film, this even works for me when I start to lose interest shooting cameras that are not fully manual.

    1. P, yes that is certainly a way to combat boredom, really getting back to basics.

      The most “primitive” photography I have tried is with a fully manual film camera, shooting Sunny 16. It is more rewarding when you get pleasing results that when using a far more automated film camera.

      Strangely, the equivalent with digital for me, is almost the opposite, ie picking up a little point and shoot, using AF and Program mode, and focusing only only composition. Shooting manually with digital doesn’t make sense to me, as it does with film.

      I would disagree with part of your comment – “it reminds them why they love photography in the first place”. I think that anyone who hasn’t shot film before, or who has done but with say a very late very automated AF film camera, would find going to an all manual camera too intimidating and potentially put them off photograph even more. Some come to photography just because they love the magic of capturing the scene before them in a photograph, even if it’s “just” with a smart phone. That simple ability of makes them fall in love with it.

      1. Yeah, I guess you’re probably right. If people are into photography that have never touched anything but a digital camera, and they really don’t care about the historical aspect or the traditional process, then maybe it’s not for them. I still think every photographer should give the traditional process a go at least once or twice. They may just fall in love with it, even if it at first seemed daunting.

      2. I agree that everyone should try film on some level. Even if it’s just using a point and shoot like a Pentax Espio, or even a disposable.

        Remember now there will never be another generation who grows up shooting film because it’s the only option. They have to seek it out and explore it for themselves, and have the outlets and the finances available to do so.

      3. Yeah, the financial aspect of shooting film is really becoming a major problem. And as far as I can tell it’s pretty much entirely due to people’s greed. If anything destroys the industry for good, I think it’ll be greed. I believe it’s already doing so, even if it’s not being felt yet. I can only hope things change, and soon, so that people actually continue to have the opportunity to shoot film.

      4. It’s one of those things (and I can’t think of a good analogy currently) where it’s only once you try it, you can see how enjoyable it is, and in some ways how different to digital photography. But you need to experience it to know it’s worth trying, but you can only get the experience by trying it in the first place. It’s a kind of vicious circle that’s hard to break into. Especially when you can shoot for years with virtually zero cost with a DSLR. I hope that makes sense!

      5. It makes sense. Some things just have to be experienced firsthand to understand why they’re so uniquely special.

  3. I can relate to the phone example, I’m sure I have done that. I wouldn’t say I get the same issue with cameras, although there have been some I just don’t get on with. I agree that some of the most fun times I have had with a camera were when I was just using one camera and one lens. Some of my favorite pictures were taken with a plastic camera on a trip to Europe to visit family. I only took one bag and didn’t want to worry about my good camera.

    1. This reminds me of a conversation I had in 2017, when I was still shooting film. I took some film in to be processed at my usual lab (the local Asda supermarket) and noticing how many unprocessed rolls of film were lying around, ask the guy if they were doing a good business in film processing.

      He told me they were very busy, not so much with photographers like me who were using old film gear, or students (this was on the outskirts of a very artistic city where there are a high proportion of photographers, students and otherwise). No, their main business by far was processing photo from disposable cameras, that people were using for weddings and parties, but most of all to take on holiday to capture their memories, because they didn’t want to take their expensive and sophisticated digital gear anywhere in might get lost, stolen, wet or covered in sand!

  4. I experience less camera boredom than I do camera attention deficit disorder. Rather than pick one camera, shoot a roll, and move on, when I travel I feel that I must have 3-4 different film cameras loaded with a variety of films for different lighting conditions, so that I have both color and monochrome, I have at least one point and shoot, etc. Often it takes weeks or even months to finish each roll. It is a really bad habit that I cannot seem to break.

    1. Now this is something that thankfully I agreed not to do very early on with my camera collecting. I kept pretty detailed notes of every film I shot, including the camera and lens, place, and any additional treatments (redscale, xpro etc) or diversions from the norm (deliberating over exposing etc).

      It just about worked with one film at a time, trying to keep this up with more than one camera loaded wouldn’t have worked, so fortunately it kept me using just one at a time, even if I rarely shot two rolls in succession with the same set up.

      Come to think of it, I didn’t even like having a roll of film unfinished at the end of a photo walk.

      So where possible I tried to shot one roll (or two) entirely, then start the next photo walk with a new roll (and usually new camera!).

      I can’t imagine having one roll unfinished for months, but then in my film heyday I was shooting 12-15 rolls per month!

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