I considered calling this blog "How To Prevent A Hobby From Becoming An Obligation" because Iím finding it hard to fit photography practice into my schedule. I don't know about you guys, but between work and personal commitments, by the time I get to the end of the week, Iím almost always too exhausted to want to go out. Itís getting to a point where finding time for a hobby means pencilling it in between deadlines and engagements, or sacrificing downtime for a little extra practice.
The other alternative is to integrate it into the two biggest parts of my life. I donít particularly mind bringing my camera with me to get-togethers with family and friends; we take photos of our food and activities and upload them to Facebook all the time, so swapping the smartphone for an SLR should be easy. But making photography a part of my work life runs uncomfortably close to turning it from something I do for fun, into yet another work-related commitment.
I guess what Iím wary of is whether making photography a ďwork-related commitmentĒ would suck the enjoyment out of it in the long run. Itís like learning a musical instrument as a kid: at first, you really enjoy it and you practise whenever you can, but then you start being graded for it, and sitting exams; all of a sudden, practising becomes an obligation, a must-do rather than a want-to-do.
Some of you may say ďsacrifices must be madeĒ, or ďsomethingís gotta giveĒ ó and I agree. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is difficult when youíre in a fast-paced industry, where targets and quotas must be met, and new projects start even before the current ones have had time to develop into self-sustaining entities. Itís a constant battle between wanting to meet deadlines, and not wanting to work from home to do it.
So where does a hobby sit amongst all of this? I guess what Iím trying to work out is how big a part of my day I can make into photography practice. If I were only looking to be competent in the theory of photography, I could sit in front of my computer and just bang out a few hundred words each day based on Internet research, easy. But what is the use of knowing how to take photos, if I donít actually take them? Or am I being too much of a perfectionist?
For me, the most time-consuming part of learning photography is that I have very little working knowledge of photography and cameras. I have to take time out to look up different terms, and then spend some time practising with it in mind. Itís never as simple as ďsee something you like, take a photo, write about itĒ, not when youíre just starting. Donít get me wrong, I love reading up about photography information and techniques ó Iím an information sponge. But it takes time to properly incorporate that theoretical knowledge into something that is applicable in real life.
For now, Iím going to try focusing on still-life photography. At least that is something I can practise using whatever is around me at the time, such as food and everyday items. Study other peopleís photography techniques, and really work on building my knowledge. Spend a couple more weekends taking classes (the night class is next on my list), until I really get the hang of the fundamentals. And then, once the more time-consuming part of my learning journey is behind me, I can think about how to get some quality practice time again.
Does anyone else feel the same way? How did you guys manage to do it? Or am I just worrying too much?