Do You Still Enjoy Photography at All?

Do You Still Enjoy Photography at All?

This year has been tough in every aspect, no question about it. Has your love for photography also suffered through this?

During the lockdown period throughout the summer, I often heard, or rather, read online, dismayed comments from fellow photographers who had not picked up a camera in months. Whether it was the hectic changes in family and professional life or simply a lack of motivation due to generally feeling down and discouraged, plenty of creatives went through similar feelings. Some are still processing this and going through it. So, how can we take steps to return to that feeling we maybe used to get while the world, our business, and our creative future weren't as confusing?

The reason why many saw themselves not picking up their camera was undoubtedly the physical lack of paid photography jobs available. This might have also made you realize how little you actually used to use photography purely for creative or recreational purposes before all of this. It's easy to fall into a routine of working hard to build a business and slowly move away from what perhaps gave you the ambition to enter that business in the first place. Some of us have a natural passion for building business, be it photography or otherwise, while the creative processes in the background aren't as crucial. However, for many, the creative side is what motivates and excites us more so than the business itself.

A young woman using her phone at an outdoor cafe.

The money is nice, but so is feeling creatively fulfilled.

Either way, with such large disruptions to our business life, it's natural that our creative energy suffered. Understandably, the reason why you didn't pick up that camera was that just a mere look at it made you feel drained and reminded you of all the losses suffered. It's also unsurprising that you might feel the same way not just about the creative side of photography but about your business as a whole. Personally, I am still questioning my previous plans I set out for myself and am learning to accept that I will need to adjust to the new "normal," which might mean moving away from what I initially thought my future was going to be.

Equally, some creatives have been forced to take on additional or new jobs, which might be a complete u-turn on what the photography career is all about. Gaining new responsibilities and a different schedule means that photography will take up a slightly different part of their lives, which may take a while to get used to. This acclimatization period may eat into large amounts of time and energy that otherwise would have been spent on creative tasks or projects.

A dog looking through the living room window.

I started reminding myself to bring my camera with me on my walks around the neighbourhood to give me a reason to start seeing little moments again.

But, it's not all doom and gloom. Creativity is something we can rely on to bring us some well-needed escape. Small, intentional and manageable projects are bound to bring back those positive feelings. I found myself using my smartphone more regularly for brief photography projects as I go on about my day because I always have it on me so there is no excuse not to use it. If you are wishing to get back into the process of creation, consider joining or setting up a small group of like-minded people where you give each other a daily, weekly, or monthly task or project. It will keep you more accountable, which in return will help you get to that satisfactory feeling after you have finished a personal project.

Use equipment that is enjoyable and easily accessible. For example, for my personal work, I primarily use a small and fast Fuji camera, which can easily fit in my handbag. I always keep it charged so I can grab it whenever inspiration strikes me. If you have heaps of professional equipment that you simply don't have the energy to use for your personal projects, consider using your smartphone, or if you have any spare funds, invest in a small, affordable camera that you can take with you anytime and anywhere.

A shopping cart abandoned on a street.

I enjoy the feeling of finding random moments of ordinary life; they remind me that all is not lost.

It's a lot easier to force ourselves to finish a paid job or to answer client's messages because we know this is our livelihood. When it comes to creativity, it's definitely not easy. But, step by step, you can start introducing it back into your daily life and routine to bring back that passion and excitement, even if it means simply documenting your family life at home. Remind yourself of how you used to feel during an enjoyable shoot or a photography walk or trip. Look through your photo archives and find unedited gems. And keep that camera charged up so you can reach for it and snap whatever caught your eye that day. Sometimes, a simple, imperfect image can be enough to give us the positivity to last through the day.

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Dominic Deacon's picture

I wrote about this briefly on another similarly themed article. I've been unable to work as a photographer due to government restrictions for the entirety of lockdown. Still not allowed to. Prior to lockdown I had figured that a large part of the reason photography bored me was because I was always engaged in professional work. I thought lockdown would break me out of that cycle, I would gravitate to personal photography projects and rediscover a bit of interest in it.

Didn't happen. I don't touch my camera and I don't miss it in the least. I'd been thinking for a while I needed to get out of this job. Covid just made that more clear than ever.

Timothy Roper's picture

Nope. Like with a LOT of people, the pandemic has renewed my interest in the outdoors and backpacking. As a result, I've been doing a lot more landscape photography, and will start selling some prints. It's not because I was sitting around thinking I should do more landscape because people photography was almost impoosible; it's because I was outside a lot more, started seeing a lot more, and got ideas for photos.

Anete Lusina's picture

That's good to hear! Sounds like a very beneficial and healthy way forward to combine photography and something that's good for mental and physical health, especially during these times!

Michael Dougherty's picture

While this article seems to be geared towards professionals, I also think it applies to enthusiasts like myself. I've been shooting for over 50 years and I find myself using my iPhone more and more, (and getting good at it) instead of dragging out all my Nikon gear. It just isn't worth the hassle. If other enthusiasts feel the same way, this is not good for the equipment makers although I did pre order a Z7II.

Anete Lusina's picture

Definitely! During the middle of summer through lockdown I set up a group to kind of rekindle this love for quick, everyday photography using smartphones only. I ended up with around 12 women who were both enthusiasts as well as pros and we did a daily topic for a full month - no importing and editing on laptops, no cameras and charging batteries, just quick snapshots to give 5mins of creativity every day without being overwhelming and sometimes it's enough I find. :)

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Well, since I just shoot for fun and in Southern California, hell yeah I still enjoy photography. There’s always someone or something to shoot here.

Michael Simon's picture

I shoot live dance performances for fun. I shoot images no pro would promise - the lighting is crazy, the motion is unpredictable, I have no control over anything. I love it. There have been no live dance performances since February. I've shot a performance art group a couple of times - they perform in the headlights of the audience's cars. I finally, Friday, got to shoot a honestly dance performance. Probably you'd call it modern dance? Not like contemporary. Certainly not like ballet or jazz or hiphop. But it was dance. It was in a back yard of the one dancer's house. Lit by maybe a couple or three 100 to 150 watt bulbs in reflectors. I was shooting 12800 ISO f4 and 1/13 to 1/60 - crazy slow for dance. The dancers were happy. But I enjoyed it and it was the first chance to honestly shoot dance since February. So, no I have not been able to shoot. But I still enjoy it. I have not yet been driven to shoot scenery - a photographic medium I SUK at. I got a BA in photography in 1978 - so I have shot lots of things, weddings, portrait, nudes, boudoir, bodybuilding shows, fire poi and similar fire performance, and now dance. I enjoy dance the most, fire second. Weddings and body building I have made money at. I have over 650K images on a smugmug site, 550K of which are bodybuilding.

EDWIN GENAUX's picture

Well not being a Pro but understand that a photo business is a hard one to start and keep going. There are so many types and finding a new one to make $ from can be hard. But when was the last time you just dreamed of a capture and planed it and then waited for it to happen but not like the job but for the unknown. Remember every capture is like an experiment with the light triangle. Above all it is scientific with a lot of math, sometimes we stay on a known formula and need to figure some new ones. I like to read the stories and photos of those getting started and then finding a spot, ever think of writing it down, if any thing to just look back, it may inspire!
But I get inspired looking through photo sites like ViewBug or SmugMug to name a few and believe it this too will pass, maybe a few years but be ready. A new idea maybe. But play with the scientific little box and keep that eye trained with your mind full of dreams. I was out capturing a dream and ran across some military families and made a dream for them not knowing if I could, making a new formula! How about wedding couples under the Milky Way, no flash needed! Or print your photos on masks, like a billboard with your site? Hint tell them to wash with hunter no scent washer degent will last forever and so will you!!! It is your dream to fulfill....

Douglas Goodhill's picture

I'm not sure making any art, when it is a true expression, is something one enjoys. There are certain aspects of being an artistic photographer than I enjoy, but bringing satisfaction would be a better description.

Tony Clark's picture

I still love photography after nearly three decades of shooting professionally. I found myself shooting in the garden and even started to learn about video which is an altogether different discipline.

Timothy Gasper's picture

Do I still enjoy doing photography? Well after reading this, not at all. In fact I'm now in a severe state of depression. I think I will go out and kill myself tomorrow. Or maybe today. Just get it over with and be happy.
Oh, wait. I'm retired. I don't have to worry about any of this. I shoot for myself now. No pressures, no worries, no 'competing.' Whew...I'm so glad I realized this. I can live a bit longer now. Ok. I'm fine now. I'm ok.
Think I'll go take some photos today.

Y'all have a nice day and keep doing photography.....or not.

Spy Black's picture

Yeah I've been out of production since March, and now I've been doing a of "street" photography, as well as astrophotography with MFT gear that is light and portable. The full frame gear stays in the studio. Someone mentioned shooting with their phone, but I've been shooting too long to not have tangible controls to work with. It's simply second nature to me. However chances are I may never return to professional production and post production. We'll see.

Charles Mercier's picture

As non-professional with more down time, I've learned to find things to shoot within a few blocks where I live whereas in the past, I've saved taking out my good camera for/while traveling.

Malcolm Wright's picture

I can empathise with professional photographers having lost 3 paid full time employments in the last 12 months. You go through rejection, depression and feel as though the world has turned against you.
Luckily I have suffered from severe depression in the past, know the signs and one of my turn to helps is to walk the dogs. Long, long walks mind you. The dogs help, in that they give you a reason to go back home. Also people stop and talk to you when you have dogs with you, particularly other dog owners. Maybe there is an unspoken bond.
The lock down with almost no one driving their cars reduced the background noise and you could hear the birds sing.
I walked places I've never been before, found a couple of small lakes or ponds, with cygnets, herons, mallards, moorhens and plenty of dragon fly and so forth.
Eventually I took my camera with me, it didn't work out. You try handling a Canon 7D mk2 and a set of lenses whilst holding the leads of 3 dogs. I laughed at myself, a sure sign I was coming out the other side of the black hole.
In the end I got a new smaller portable camera.
So far this year I've taken around 5,000+ photographs. Are they any good? Probably not, I'm realistic enough to know there will be few keepers there. Have I edited any of them yet?
No way, I'm saving that for when the weather turns bad and the annual seasonal adjustment deficiency (S.A.D) strikes.
Will I be down when I get around to editing those photographs, sure I will. A tear will be shed over those of 'Kitten' my cat of 13 years who had to be put down during Lock down.
Will I smile and laugh?
Eventually, then I'll be good to go for another year.
Am I a creative, looking for the perfect photograph?
I suffer from depression enough not to lay that burden on myself.
Am I using photography in a creative way?
It certainly helps me.

Nox Vega's picture

I photograph only 5-6 months per year, during the motorsport season in Sweden. I find it both a curse and a blessing. By the time the season starts, I'm hungry to photograph more, and by the time I'm fed up with travelling all around the country (and sometimes beyond), it's almost coming to its end.
The problem is, the other 6-7 months of the year I survive on bread and water :p