Dreaming of Summer

summer, adirondacks, adirondack park, adirondack, New York, fog

I’ve been in a rut for about three years now. Maybe four. It’s hard to tell when photography started feeling more like work and gradually became less satisfying. It’s not that I don’t love photography, I do. It’s just that, well, it feels like it’s been a while since I’ve taken a good picture.

Life gets in the way of being a photographer. No matter how you to look at it, unless you are fortunate enough to be independently wealthy and don’t have to worry about money, life will somehow manage to get in the way. If you are a professional photographer, all of a sudden you are shooting to live. You need to make money off of your work, whether through print and stock sales or via commissioned assignments. Even if you like the work you do, you still rely on it, it still becomes a means to an end. If you aren’t a pro, and photography is just a hobby instead of a full time job, then your full time job absorbs huge amounts of your time and energy, making it difficult to get out and shoot as much as you’d like. No matter which end of the spectrum you are on, life, or rather making enough money to live life independently, gets in the way.

When I started getting “serious” about photography, I was in college. I was a full time student, I went to classes a few days a week for a few hours a day. I worked some, on campus, and that paid my bills. My mom was kind enough to pay for my tuition and housing, so I only needed enough money to eat, put gas in my car, pay my cell phone bill and car insurance, and chip in for utilities and internet. Anything left over went into a savings account. I had plenty of free time, and I was dating another photographer at the time, so I was shooting plenty. My life was pretty manageable. I was happy.

After college, my own version of the real world hit with a vengeance. I’ll spare you the details, but between working as many a ten jobs in four states in a given year, being a full time graduate student, and volunteering way too much because I’m a passionate person/an overachiever and I just can’t seem to help myself, photography has fallen to the wayside. I still shoot, but not as much as I want to, and these days, I’ve been doing a lot of contract work instead of shooting just for me. Rarely do I create a photograph that I get excited about anymore. It’s a sad, sad reality. My rut is the symptom of a much bigger problem – I’ve been putting incredible stress on myself these past few years.

So this summer, I’ve resolved to cut back, to take a break, and to find myself again. I’m not a workaholic, or at least I don’t have to be. I can relax, I deserve to. So, this summer is about me, about having fun, and doing the things I love to do. I’m going to pay outside, explore, and take pictures, not because those activities pay the bills, but because they are my passion. Just thinking about it already makes me feel a little bit lighter and more free.

So expect good things this summer, because they are going to happen. I can just feel it.

5 thoughts on “Dreaming of Summer

  1. Many years ago I abandoned trying to make a living with photography mostly because to do that at equal pay to what I make in my day job would be incredibly difficult. While I loved the idea of shooting and doing what I wanted all the time it didn’t make sense for that and because my day job was simply just as fantastic. I can’t complain and don’t because I consider myself very fortunate

    Since making that decision, I rarely sell a print for what I used to. I mostly restrict my sales to people I know and then it’s cost at most or even a donation. My circle of clients is really small so I don’t worry about affecting the greater market in general. The point here is I’m very satisfied with not having to worry about “making it” with photography since that realization.

    Now, that doesn’t mean it’s hard to get out and shoot. That’s a constant struggle. I did a dedicated effort this last weekend–camped at a petroglyph site–for the first time this year. I’m disappointed with myself because, well it’s April already.

    What I found over the years what definitely helps me overcome that initial inertia to shoot for myself is no-kidding scheduling big events. I’m leading a workshop shooting Lesser Prairie Chickens in Eastern New Mexico. I’m doing gigantic motorcycle trips to Seattle and New York. I will bring my gear for sure and always it’s fun to see new places and shoot them.

    It seems the no kidding scheduling of the photographic event and building a life around it like you would for work seems to be an effective tool for me. It’s the obligation part that gets me moving.

    BTW, I’ve been writing a lot on my blog about play, creativity, and procrastinating. It’s way more than I could write here.

    Cheers

    Tom

  2. Man, I read this and was amazed at how much I could relate. Luckily I have a day job – which I need to get back to after this – but I’m on one of those ends of the spectrum you mention. Must of my work is assignment and print sales, but I don;t really go looking for it; it not much, but it helps. IDK if I would ever take that leap and go full.

    BTW, amazing shot. I like the fog very much.

  3. “There are days when simply seeing feels like happiness itself… You feel so rich, the elation seems almost excessive and you want to share it.” Dosineau.

    Thanks for such an honest and personal read. It sounds like you have had a lot on your plate, and really hope that you rediscover your mojo. I’ve seen plenty of wonderful images from you for what it’s worth. However it’s you that you have to satisfy.

  4. I relate to the stress. The last three have been tough years. I’ve been writing and interviewing people for my book about my father landscape photographer Philip Hyde, a student and teaching associate of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. The galleries have been slow. Have had no time for my own photography, but have eeked some out here and there. Would love to just hit the road and leave it all behind, run away and never come back, well, not really, but the thought does occur. Because I’ve mainly been writing, I have neglected the networking and sales of prints. I don’t focus on stock any more like my Dad did. I’m in a new internet based business model, completely different from what Dad did for 60 plus years. Learning curve has been steep. Am starting to devote more time to print sales and that helps. Though I am still embroiled in remodeling a house to rent out and scanning Dad’s vintage 8X10 prints to put online, SEO, social media, etc, etc, arrrghhhhhhh…

  5. Cheers to a great summer, Kari. I fell into that rut a few years ago when I was fixated on shooting a lot of stock for image sales. Sometimes you just need to go back to what got you into photography in order to find yourself.

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