When Photography Falls

Over the last 15 years I’ve been photographing with intention, my photographic output has had its ebbs and flows, without any obvious patterns.

But it’s become clear that in the last three months or so, I’ve definitely made fewer photographers than in some time, and probably in years.

Now this isn’t something I’m concerned about, but I thought it might be interesting to explore why.

First, while the pandemic has not, fortunately, had any significant impact on us or our extended family, it has of course changed a number of areas of our life.

The children were schooled at home for the best part of four months, with all the juggling and increased flexibility (patience, commitment and tolerance) that required.

My marvellous wife excelled herself, and I was able to be at home more with my own day job shifting to more working from home, now about 50/50 home/office.

On this front, it was a slow start, and there was a period where we were on a Working From Home (WFH)/office rota without any devices to work on at home, increasing pressure on those in the office.

But eventually we were allocated laptops in place of our desktop PCs, which we can take to and from home and the office.

A docking station for the laptop in the office for additional monitors and hardwired internet then left to our own devices (no pun intended!) at home.

Early on I decided that the office set up of laptop plus two decent widescreens was excessive, so took one home, and created a similar set up wherever I am – the main big external screen in front of me, with the laptop below, acting as a vertical second screen extension below the first, when needed.

Some apparently use just the laptop (a decent enough Dell Windows machine, but only 14″, when we were used to twin 21″ (I think) widescreens previously) at home, which I would struggle with for any extensive period, especially with all the map work we do, and working with multiple documents/maps at once.

Overall, the 50/50 WFH/office set up is working well and means I can walk with the family more in the day when they’re around, and/or have lunch with (some of) them, none of which could happen if I was out at work all day.

Now I wouldn’t say this change has impacted my photography directly, as I rarely took a camera to work to use on lunchtime walks anyway.

But perhaps having more time with the family – both because the children and my wife, who works in a school but was on maternity leave, were at home so much more over lockdown, and because I’m WFH half the week – has made us closer and more involved with each other I feel.

I’ve spoken before about finding new habits to write for 35hunter, and perhaps the same thing needed to happen for photography for it to continue at its previous rate. But didn’t.

But whereas with writing I wanted to create new habits to allow a consistent publishing plan, with photography I didn’t – and still don’t – feel the same urgency, or even necessity.

Once I get into making photography too regimented (eg you must go out at 7am every Saturday and make 100 photographs) it doesn’t work.

It feels like a bit of a chore, and like I’m going through the motions, rather than really anticipating and enjoying the experience and how magical it can be.

Going forward, I’m not sure much will change.

As I write this in early November, my camera for October, the Lumix FZ38, didn’t see much action. But, more crucially, I have really enjoyed using it when I have gone out (perhaps three or four times) and I haven’t felt pressured to shoot more with it.

In fact I’m likely to repeat the One Month One Camera project with the same camera into this month.

And I’m more than happy with my favourite images I’ve made with the Lumix over last month.

So whilst my photography output and frequency has fallen, I wouldn’t say my enjoyment has.

How about you? How are you enjoying photography currently? How has it changed this year?

As always, 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.

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21 thoughts on “When Photography Falls”

    1. Yeh I kind of like maps, though even after years of working with them I find it quite hard to translate a map to reality. Places usually look nothing like I expect them to having seen them on a map.

  1. We’ve all been affected by restrictions and limited in one way or another to be able to fully enjoy what we do – photography. Some find it more difficult than others. People in big cities (as I am) are more affected. I haven’t changed my approach to photography, in some way it even became easier to get close to people while wearing a mask… Obviously, with lockdowns in place, there are fewer people outside but it works well for me as I prefer cleaner and not too busy images when out on the streets.
    I think it’s just important to stay sane at the moment so even if I don’t photograph as much now, it’s ok as long as I stay positive and brainstorm ideas for future projects etc.

    1. Yeh I’ve seen quite a number of series of photographs now of near deserted city streets.

      We’ve gone into a second lockdown here, though it’s much softer than the first, and to be honest in my day to day life nothing’s changed.

  2. When I went to the office (which I haven’t done basically since March) I used to take photo walks to some walking areas close to work. Working from home, I’ll usually have lunch and relax with the family instead. So the “pictures for pleasure” or photo walks, have basically been done away with in recent months…
    There were some developments gear-wise. My wife started working again and our finances improved – we paid off all our debt and actually have savings now, and some disposable income… I’m still very frugal but I was able to buy a couple of good lenses – partially by selling other things, and now that my K-S1 has hit issues, I was able to buy a used K-3 ahead of our 50-day trip to Brazil.
    Yes, we will be going to our native Brazil for a while – I will be working from home there for a few weeks, and we have some family issues and commitments. While down there I should have time for a LOT of pictures! That should really make up for all the pictures I haven’t taken this year… and I’m very thankful for that.

    1. All the best for your trip to Brazil Chris, when is it? I’m surprised you’re allowed to travel, restrictions are pretty tight here, and I thought Brazil had suffered worst than most countries in terms of the spread and death rate due to Covid?

      1. Well, considering most of the population doesn’t own cars and mass transit is necessary for literally everything, I think things could have been even worse in Brazil…
        But I have dual citizenship so it’s ok to travel back and forth.
        We leave in just over a week… I’m looking forward to the fact that I should be able to take plenty of pictures!

  3. Another thing I should have added…
    To try to improve my output, I have cleaned up and performed some needed lubrication on my P30T film camera, and have the plan (best plans of mice and men?) to start shooting film again next year.
    I found a lab here in the US (sharpprints.com) that will allow you to send them your films with a prepaid shipping label (no cost to you) and will develop and give you a 6MP wet scan for 11 dollars. 6MP scans are good enough for films like Kodak Gold 200 or Ultramax 400 which don’t resolve more than this anyway.
    They also have a 24MP scan for 16 dollars with development – which would be good for films like Ektar 100, T-Max 100 and Portra 160 that I think resolve close to this with a good lens and good technique.
    Add the cost of a roll and I could have 36 exposures of Gold 200 for $15.40, UltraMax 400 for $18, Portra 160 for $23 and Ektar for $24. Splurging once or twice a month on this might be inspiring. Or would it be a waste of my time and/or a distraction?

    1. I think you just have to try it. I loved many aspects of film, but the cost was a barrier, and ultimately the reason I stopped shooting. The amount I wanted to shoot was costing more than I could justify.

      1. I don’t think I’d go full film – but I think now that this shop has very reasonable prices and their basic scan is made on a Noritsu at 6MP, I think I can justify a roll every once in a while…

  4. How are you enjoying photography currently? How has it changed this year?

    Well, all my photography related plans for 2020 were upended by a global pandemic. I avoid people which means I go out infrequently. I avoid riots, most parks, and indoor spaces.

    I’ve rekindled my joy of 35mm film photography. I now own five film cameras and a bunch of lenses. Shot a roll of Pro Image 100 last week and started a roll of Rollei RPX 25 today. I guess I’m bored and looking for ways to keep going.

      1. Between 1987 and 1999 I shot and developed 35mm film and while my compositions were lacking I had many more “keepers”. This time around, my compositions are better but I’m struggling to find the success I have with digital. I’ve yet to capture a photograph on film that equates to any photograph I’ve captured with my Fuji X-T2.

      2. What do the Fuji images have that your film images don’t? Is it perhaps that your tastes in what makes an image appealing to your eye have changed, ie you’re more used to seeing and enjoying digital images now?

      3. David duChemin, ever the thoughtful photographer, has written:

        The hardest job of the photographer is not the making of pictures. It’s not the pushing of buttons. It isn’t even being aware and having open eyes and an open mind—it’s more.

        The hardest job of the photographer is seeing the way the camera sees.David duChemin

        I agree with duChemin.

        35mm film SLR cameras show what I see in the frame through the optical elements. When shooting Kodak Portra or Proimage have to imagine what the image “might” look like with the lighting conditions, the cameras settings and the film stock. If lighting conditions and camera setting are kept the same, Portra and Proimage will product difference results. To ensure that what is captured matches what the photographer wanted, I suspect that most film photographers photographer use a limited set of lenses (or maybe just one lens) and film stock to eliminate variables.

        Modern digital mirror-less cameras are closer to “what you see is what you’ll get”. When I choose my settings – film simulation, ISO, aperture, exposure composition, etc. – the digital viewfinder provides immediate feedback on what the camera will capture.

        I amore likely to succeed in achieving my vision with my Fuji X-T2 than with any of my 35mm film SLRs.

      4. I agree it takes time and experience to make images look like you want them to.

        But, I kind of see this from the opposite angle. I like using different cameras to see their unique way of rendering the world.

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