Do you know that? Your work schedule is always full of exclusively important tasks, several deadlines pop up in your online calendar, colleagues are standing in your doorstep asking questions to be answered asap and today was meant to be the day to finalize your latest project application. The load seems overwhelming and instead of prioritizing and executing one task after the other you are browsing Youtube for the latest gear talk or you start in-silico scouting of your next possible photo location in Google Maps. Alternatively, your email inbox needs urgent maintenance and …wasn’t it already 10 minutes ago, that you checked your email account and social media canals for news? You know what I mean. Making yourself busy with this kind of supplementary ‘jobs’ only feels as if you’re concentrating on important tasks whilst the pile of real work grows bigger and bigger. Welcome to the magic world of procrastination!
Working full time as a researcher in evolutionary biology and curator of a Museum collection, photography for me is a hobby. It feels like the ideal thing to balance the day-to-day duties at work. But even when it comes to executing my latest ideas for photographic projects, procrastinator’s corner is never far away. Watching Youtube videos of others making photos is so much easier than going out and chase your next series of images. There are several reasons for this: Sometimes your day-to-day business sucks so much energy that at the end of the day or during the weekend there is just not enough power left to enter the creative path. Even worse, using photography as a re-creative [sic!] hobby, there are always daily routines and private duties which need urgent attention during your free time and do not allow for leisure activities. A nice set of images as rewarding as it might be does not really counterbalance heaps of dirty dishes, piles of forgotten laundry and serious droughts in your garden. I know, it’s all a matter of organizing your day properly, but to cite a famous John Lennon quote: Life is what happens while you are making other plans!
And there is another pitfall. In contrast to most professionals hobby photographers –– and other hobbyists of whatever ‘profession’ –– tend to become obsessed with gear, whether it is collecting old film cameras as in my case or being always up to date with the latest camera releases, lenses, tripods, you name it. This not only leads to cluttering your home with a lot of tech stuff, but also keeps you busy with browsing through catalogues, buying the newest gadgets, watching how-to or test videos on Youtube and re-selling unused, old equipment, which was recently outperformed by your latest purchase. It feels like a growing and successful business to increase and permanently upgrade your “fleet” to the highest possible performance level, but the downside of it is obvious: while keeping yourself busy with all this watching and testing and trading you are not shooting a single image!
And then there is the accumulated equipment itself. Whenever you walk pass your gear cabinet, shelf or whatever you use to store all that stuff, the cameras and lenses stare at you, desperately waiting to be used. And because you did not even found the time and energy to use your favourite camera with a normal 50mm prime lens for a small project, you end up sitting in front of all your precious optics unable to make the first step. So, what’s the solution to it, if there is any? At least for the hobbyist, who is not shooting photos for a living, there is one. Keep calm and relax. You are not depending on a constant stream of high quality photo projects to pay your rent. Don’t put too much pressure on you. Neither try to live up to your most adored photographers just because you own the same equipment s/he was using (this would be nonsense anyway, because it’s always the head behind the camera and not the equipment itself, which makes the difference!), nor feel bad about the lack of time for photography due to your daily obligations. Try to steal an hour or two to think about the content of a possible future project, then choose the best gear for it from your equipment and go for it. And if you can stand it think about selling some items from your collection. Optical equipment does not get better when it’s accumulating dust, and experience shows that cameras and lenses, which always stay home when you go out shooting, won’t get used in any of your future projects. Same as with clothes hanging in your closet for a year or two without being used…you can unceremoniously throw them out, as you will almost certainly never ever wear them again.