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Fitting Photography Into A Busy Lifestyle

by Bethany (follow)
Blog (395)      Articles (166)     
Image by Mark Rohde

I considered calling this blog "How To Prevent A Hobby From Becoming An Obligation" because I’m 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, I’m almost always too exhausted to want to go out. It’s 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 don’t 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 I’m wary of is whether making photography a “work-related commitment” would suck the enjoyment out of it in the long run. It’s 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 “sacrifices must be made”, or “something’s gotta give” — and I agree. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is difficult when you’re 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. It’s 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 I’m 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 don’t 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. It’s never as simple as “see something you like, take a photo, write about it”, not when you’re just starting. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading up about photography information and techniques — I’m an information sponge. But it takes time to properly incorporate that theoretical knowledge into something that is applicable in real life.

For now, I’m 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 people’s 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?

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