In my recent post entitled 9 Photography Solutions to Try on Those ‘Not Ideal for Photography’ Weather Days I expressed the view that, for me, photography is a therapeutic activity.
It is an escape from the worries and stresses of life and a way to relax and unwind.
It is an activity that I enjoy doing and that enhances my wellbeing in numerous ways.
Because photography means a lot to me it is important that my priority is to enjoy my photography practice.
Yes, I want to improve my composition skills and make more pleasing photos.
Yes, I want to create my own unique style of photography and to constantly improve my techniques.
But most of all, I want to enjoy what I do; I want to enjoy the process of making an image and I want to enjoy the journey and where it takes me.
How can I make enjoyment of photography my priority?
I have come up with 7 simple but effective tips that will help you get more enjoyment from your photography.
#1 Park, Coffee, Shoot
The coffee part is important!
You might substitute water, fruit, even chocolate for the coffee, but essentially it is about self-care, about treating your photography shoot as time for you, time to nourish yourself physically and emotionally.
When I have previously scouted my location (photography speak for having been there before and looked around!) I know where to find safe parking, so I park up and have my cup of coffee before setting out with my camera.
Photography is not about rushing or stressing over getting a certain photo, it’s about taking in a sense of the place, feeling relaxed and enjoying the process.
#2 Shoot what you like, like what you shoot
Both parts of this sentence are important.
Most of us who take photographs do shoot the things we like. We are drawn to a beautiful scene; a certain subject catches our eye and we want to make an image.
But there are also the unexpected moments in photography, the moments when we find something different, when we see a subject in a different way, when we are drawn to something unusual, something ordinary, something that may be old or unused, banal even, but it has some attraction for us.
For me, these can often be the photos I most enjoy making because they are unique to me, an expression of my vision, and they give a lot of satisfaction.
#3 Get out early, stay out late
Most times I miss the best part of the day – sunrise.
Early morning, the time before the busyness of the day starts, is a quiet, reflective time.
It is also the best time for photography, not just because the light is better than later in the day but because we can often capture something new and unspoiled.
It could be an image of a city or town coming to life, a rare mist over a mountain, or an image of our chosen subject bathed in that soft, diffused early morning light.
Similarly with late evening.
When the sun has set and the sky, which a few moments earlier was ablaze with colour, has lost it’s fire, we can wait and watch for blue hour, for the light that will give us amazing silhouettes, for the gentle, unhurried images that emerge as the day ends.
#4 Always keep a camera with you for those unexpected moments
I have begun the habit of taking my camera with me every time I go somewhere in my car.
It is there at the ready, with battery charged, for those times when I didn’t intend to take photos, but I see something that I think would make a good image.
I may or may not be able to stop and take the photo, but at least I have the choice, as in the situation below.
I was driving home recently when I spotted this lone tree side lit by the setting sun. I just had to stop and capture the image
I am also willing to take photographs with my phone camera rather than take no shot at all, and with help from an online course with iPhone Photo Academy I realise that I can do real photography with this 'camera in my pocket.'
#5 Shoot regularly
As with most things in life, even when we enjoy something we can lose motivation through lack of practice.
While I enjoyed photography in the past, I allowed the demands of life to get in the way and I let photography slip out of my life, much to my regret.
I am determined not to make that mistake again so I have made myself a commitment to get out regularly and make images, to keep myself motivated and to keep improving my enjoyment of the photography journey.
I take a photo most days, and even if they are not good images, they are always learning opportunities.
Sometimes I'll just grab a sunrise shot from an upstairs window
#6 Embrace your local area
Part of my enjoyment of photography comes from being able to find images close to home.
I love to go out and allow my curiosity free rein.
I love to find images in unexpected places.
I love to make an image from a subject that initially seemed banal and ordinary.
I love to explore my local area and make the most of the new opportunities that present themselves to me.
#7 Be part of the photography community
Photography can be a lonely pursuit at times so it is important that we get as much support as we can from fellow photographers.
Why not watch some inspirational videos?
Or join a photography group, online or in person?
The support of other enthusiastic photographers is of tremendous help in ensuring that we enjoy our photography.
There are many YouTube channels which give insights into the lives and work of professional photographers, many of whom have recently given up other career paths to make a living from the thing they love.
Often, their passion is infectious.
I particularly like the YouTube channels of photographers such as Nigel Danson and Thomas Heaton who build a rapport with their viewers and give you as viewer the feeling that they are speaking to you alone.
Viewers’ comments and personal views in response to the videos can often be insightful also and they help give a sense of belonging to a community of like-minded people who share your passion for and love of photography.
Photography is a wonderful pursuit, with tremendous benefits for those who practice it.
But photography can also be stressful if we allow expectations, our own or those of others, to get in the way of our enjoyment of our chosen activity.
With a bit of awareness, thought and planning we can prioritise enjoyment of our photography and we will have something that will give us pleasure for many years to come.
I hope you have found these tips useful and that they will help you continue to enjoy what can become a lifelong passion.
Please feel free to share.