In my most prolific phase of photography, after buying my first “proper” camera (a Nikon Coolpix) in late 2011, I recall shooting over 1000 images a month for six months.
Then I discovered film, which is another story, and meant amongst other things I couldn’t afford to be anything like as trigger happy.
Since retiring from film five years later, in mid 2017, my output has again returned to digital alone, albeit not making quite so many images as that first half year with the Coolpix.
Over the three year period from then until the middle of last year, the volumes were fairly consistent, and after editing I was typically left with between 50 and 150 images each month.
But since around September last year – so about six months – I seem to have made dramatically fewer photographs.
Indeed for a couple of those months, I haven’t kept any images at all – a combination of taking so few anyway, and then none of them being worth keeping.
So what’s going on, and why does the previously abundantly hungry photographer within me appear to be slowly disappearing?
First up, I’m not especially concerned or upset with this pattern.
Whilst I do love numbers in many parts of life, I’m not one to force myself to make a certain amount of images per week or month. It’s fluctuated over the years, but as explained above, before the last six months, it’s remained above a certain minimum.
A significant factor is that I’m simply not taking my camera out with me so much.
I’m actually walking as much as I’ve done in years, and perhaps more than ever, as our family has made use of the local public footpaths and bridleways extensively in the last year.
It’s been incredible to realise the variety of walking routes within just a two or three mile radius of our doorstep.
Plus it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say – and I know this is true for many of us – that the combination of walking and the countryside has preserved both our sanity and physical health over this challenging period.
At a time when so much else has had to constantly evolve (like school and working patterns and locations, obviously two pillars of any family life), these walks (daily for my wife and kids, and as often as possible for me, work allowing) have provided a much needed routine and stability too.
But whereas a year ago I would usually walk a couple of times a week alone, and always with a camera, I rarely take one on the family walks.
Mixing two purposes or activities doesn’t work well for me in many areas of life – I hate being torn between two things I feel I want to be giving my full focus.
So trying to photograph whilst also walking and talking with others just isn’t enjoyable and degrades both experiences.
I also think that because I have photographed with intention for over 15 years, alongside this an ability to see potential photographs has inevitably evolved.
Whether I then a) have a camera with me or b) fire the shutter, doesn’t change this act of seeing a composition I feel is worth trying to capture in the first place.
I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve seen, say, a tiny robin on a branch a couple of feet away – Christmas card photogenic – or a flock of geese flying over, or frost on a partially decayed leaf, and mentally taken the picture (and made that memory) without feeling the need to make it with a camera.
I’m intrigued to see how the patterns that have taken shape in the last half a year change over the rest of this year and beyond.
How about you? How have your photography habits changed in the last six months?
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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