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How does that statement make you feel? Does it ring true to you? If you are thinking, “That might be true for others, but not for me and my busy life.”, this article may change your mind.
We would all love to have the luxury of doing whatever we want, whenever we want to do it, but that’s not how life works for most of us. We have jobs, family, kids, homes, yards, church responsibilities, community obligations, the list goes on and on. If you really want to use your camera more, learn more about photography, and practice your skills on a regular basis, maybe the following tips will help.
Sometimes we know we want to photograph something, and we figure that sometime during the day we’ll grab our camera and it will happen. If we’re being realistic, we know that the chances of that happening are pretty slim.
If you really want to get more photography into your life, you have to make it a priority. We know that priorities get scheduled in first. You’ve probably seen the object lesson where you fill a jar with sand and then try to pack the rocks into it. Of course the rocks don’t fit; the jar has already been filled with little pieces of sand. If you put the rocks in the jar first, and then shake the sand in around the rocks, you can fit both of them in there. Priorities are your rocks. They have to fill your jar of time first, and then the other little things that don’t matter as much will find a way to fit in where they can.
Write your photography plan for the day down on your calendar. In pen. Then treat it like any other important appointment. If it’s not written down, it’s much easier to push it aside for other things that happen to come up. Also, remember that it doesn’t have to be a long session every time. Sometimes five minutes is enough to capture something fun.
You may have it in your mind that you need to photograph an elaborately staged fairy tale story, or that you must photograph a mountain scene at precisely 6:30pm on a foggy day, or that your little girl has to have perfectly curled hair and perfectly matched clothes, without a speck of dirt.
If you are always waiting for the perfect conditions to happen, chances are you won’t get much photography done. Sometimes those perfect conditions happen, and it’s magical, but sometimes magical photos happen when you least expect them.
You may have to drag your night-owl self out of bed at sunrise to fit photography time into your day. You may have to snap a photo of your daughter with messy hair and mud pies on her face, because that’s when the opportunity presents itself. You may have to bring your camera to work, and find a moment in midday bright sun to explore your surroundings with your lens.
Don’t get too hung up on everything being just right. Sometimes you actually learn more when you have to deal with less-than-ideal circumstances, then you are even more appreciative of the times when everything falls into place perfectly.
We’ve talked about scheduling quality time with your camera into your day, but sometimes you may find yourself with a pocket of time you aren’t expecting. If you have your camera close by, you can take advantage of that time.
As much as possible, have your camera with you. If the weather is mild, keep it in your car. Take it to work with you. Bring it along to family functions, or parties. You don’t have to be that person who always has a camera up to your face, but have it available, just in case. There have been too many times where I’ve been in a situation where I wished I had my camera with me, and everyone around me wished I did too. But sadly, I had forgotten to bring it, or hadn’t thought I would need it. Unless you are worried about the temperatures you will have to leave it in, or about it being stolen, just bring it.
You may want to consider your smartphone, or a small pocket camera, as legitimate options also. You can get pretty great photos, even without your DSLR, so use whatever camera you have with you to create art, and capture beautiful things around you.
Going camping in the mountains? Make it a double-duty activity of camping and nature photography. Play date at the park with friends and kids? Bring your camera along for a fun session with lots of cute faces to photograph. Business trip for work? Your camera can be your travel companion, and help you explore a new city.
Find opportunities to work photography into the things that you are already doing. You don’t have to drop everything you’ve planned to find time to take a few photos. Look at the week ahead of you, and see how many already-planned activities you can fit photography into. It might surprise you how many activities will open up exciting photography opportunities, without adding any extra time to your already busy day.
We all are motivated by different things. Some of us are very goal-oriented, and some are not. Some of us thrive on challenges, and some of us get motivated by something fresh and new. Find what motivates you, and apply it to your photography.
If you like challenges, you could try a 365 Photo a Day Challenge, or make a list of objects to find and photograph, and see how fast you can check them all off. When I was new to photography, I was part of an online group called Mission 24. Each week we would take turns choosing a subject to photograph, and everyone in the group had 24 hours to interpret the subject in their own way, photograph it, and post it to the blog. Then we’d vote on which image was the winner each week. It was all in fun, and really helped us to get our cameras out, and encourage one another.
If big goals are your thing, maybe you’d like to set a goal of starting a portrait business, or selling prints of your landscapes or wildlife photography. It will take lots of time and effort to build a business, but that goal may be just what you need to make you really prioritize your photography time.
You might even find that purchasing something like a brand new awesome photography bag, or the new lens you’ve been dying to get, will motivate you to get your camera out more often.
This may sound like the exactly wrong advice for this article, but sometimes you need to put your camera aside, and not worry about photographing anything for a while.
If you feel like trying to fit photography into your day is stressing you out, and you’re not finding joy in it, then it may be time to take a little break. Forcing yourself will only make things worse. Put your camera in your bag, zip it up, and put it away. Don’t get it out until you WANT to.
You will most likely find that after a short break, you can’t wait to get your hands on your camera again, and it’s back to being a joyful, fun activity. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?
What are your best tips for fitting photography into a busy schedule? I’d love to hear them, please share in the comments below.