Over the last 18-24 months I’ve photographed far less often.
Both the number of times per month I go on a photowalk, and the number of shots made on each walk, have decreased to perhaps half, even a third of my prime shooting rate of a few years previous.
I’m now more what I call an occasional photographer than a regular one, although I would argue I’m still fairly consistent.
I make roughly the same number of pictures over any four week period, I’m not clicking like crazy one week then shooting nothing for two months.
This got me thinking about how the frequency of our photography may (or may not) be related to a couple of aspects.
First, how much we value photography excursions, and how special or important they are to us.
By doing something less often, generally it makes it increase in value. We look forward to it more, and try to enjoy each moment, in comparison with something we do so often we become blasé and take it for granted.
Personally, I’ve never not valued photography, but certainly large swathes of my photography output in the past could be categorised as “gear testing”.
In other words, I had a new camera, lens, film (or sometimes all three at once) and was making images to see first if the equipment worked at all, and second, what I could do with it, compared with other gear I’d previously used.
Nowadays, the proportion of my photography time that comes in the gear testing category is next to non-existent.
I nearly always shoot with a camera I’ve taken at least a few hundred photos with before, if not thousands, so I have a good idea of what it (and I) can do, and just get on with it.
This doesn’t mean I keep and love every image I make.
But it does mean I’m trying to capture the best images I can, not just trying to capture something to prove the kit works.
So yes, I think shot by shot, photography has become more precious, more valuable.
The second aspect I’ve been thinking about is whether shooting less makes us less fluid, less able to get into a flow.
I think this one depends on two factors, the variety of gear you use, and how often it is between each time you use it.
As I said, because I’m not testing dozens of different set ups (in the last year I think I’ve used three different cameras plus my phone, in past years I’d do this every week, then three different cameras the next week) I slip back into the quirks and foibles of any particular camera very quickly.
Because it’s not been long since I last used it, and it’s a camera I’ve used enough that it’s familiar and I know how to set it up and use it to get what I’m looking for, it doesn’t take long to connect and feel like it’s an extension of me, rather than an awkward device in my hands..
I can see that if I still used a different camera every time, and the space between each trip was weeks or months, I would spend a significant proportion (re)familiarising myself with the gear, before I hit a more natural state of flow.
What are your thoughts on these two aspects? Does shooting less often make it more or less special to you? Do you get rusty and find it hard to get back into the flow, or pick right back up where you last left off?
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