The older I get, the less time I seem to have for photography. Ever since I finished college and moved out of my family home, “grown-up life” has taken over: work, everyday chores, relationships, other hobbies… Does it sound familiar? Do you also struggle to fit photography into your busy everyday schedule? If you do, Sean Tucker and Mo Barzegar have just the video for you. In it, they give you some tips for adding more photography to your everyday life, no matter how busy you are.
1. On your way from work
Sean starts by giving his own example. When he worked as a commercial photographer, he had little time left for his own projects and street photography. But he figured out how to give himself a simple creative task every day. On his way home from work, he would get off the train earlier and walk for about 30 minutes. He would use that time for street photography, and just use his phone to keep it simple.
I believe that this method is pretty simple and most of us can take at least 30 minutes a day to do something we enjoy. In fact, that’s something we should do. It works well for street photographers, but also if you shoot cityscapes or architecture.
For anyone who travels to and from work, this is a great approach. But alas – there are many people who work from home, myself included. I’ll drop a few ideas below for all of you who don’t travel to work.
2. Choose a specific day for shooting
A few minutes into the video, Mo takes over and talks about his habits and tips for finding time to shoot. After moving to London and finding a new job that took away a lot of his time, he set a specific day for taking photos. During those years, Saturday mornings and afternoons were his usual shooting time. If you have weekends (or any other days) off, this could be a great idea.
3. Choose your favorite place
Mo is into street photography and he would often shoot around Oxford Circus, the busiest subway station in London. Choosing your favorite locations lets you explore them, get to know them, learn their “rhythm” and dynamics. This will develop your instinct and help you learn over time. After all, there are plenty of benefits of revisiting the same place with your camera, and I wrote about some of them here.
Since I prefer nature and landscape photography to street (I especially hate crowded streets), my favorite places look a whole lot different from Mo’s. So, find your own favorite place in the neighborhood and visit it with your camera when you have some time to spare.
4. Don’t overlook the opportunities
When we’re in a rush, we tend to overlook the photographic opportunities that are right in front of our noses. So, don’t rush towards your next chore or activity; it will still be there even if you take some time to observe your surroundings and take a few photos. Be present in the moment, be mindful of your surroundings, and see what interesting things are there to capture.
I had to train myself to do this considering how little time I’ve had lately. So, even on my way to the supermarket, the bus station or the therapist, I try not to forget to observe the world around me.
5. Look for specific things
If your mind is all over the place, try focusing on specific things you want in your photos. For Mo, it is the particular kind of light that would have his subject lit and the background dark. But of course, you can go for a specific gesture, detail, shape, color, and so on.
6. Challenge yourself
A very important thing is to never stop challenging yourself. From time to time, find a new way of shooting, a new style, approach, focal length or technique. This will help you to stay curious, motivated, and to learn new things. And consequently, enjoy photography and always remember why you love it so much.
Bonus: my thoughts for those working from home
As I mentioned, taking a walk on your way from work doesn’t really apply to us who work from home. Another thing is that working from home requires serious self-discipline if you don’t have fixed working hours. So, I wanted to throw in a few ideas here that I use on a daily basis, even when I don’t have the time to devote a few hours to taking and editing photos:
Take photos during your daily walk: if you work from home, I hope that you at least take a walk every day to stay in shape and clear your thoughts. If you do, bring your camera with you to keep you company. :)
Alternatively, take photos on your way to somewhere, as I wrote above. There are plenty of opportunities while walking the streets or riding on a bus or subway. Grab your phone and use those opportunities.
While you’re waiting: most people will stare at their phones while standing in line, at a bus station, or in a waiting room. Use this time to look around and instead of scrolling through Facebook, use your phone to capture some photos.
At home: finally, of course, you can take photos at home. January in Serbia was cold, gloomy and we had extremely polluted air, so I didn’t really feel like going out. Therefore, I made some self-portraits and food photos at home when I had some time to spare.
This may sound like a cliché, but we can find some time in our life to do the things we really love. Even if you think you can’t, think again and try to think differently. Reconsider your priorities and be more aware of the things you do every day that don’t need to be done (like watching 236 YouTube videos in bed). I am once again writing from my experience, as you can probably guess.
Most importantly, remind yourself to be present in the moment. Plenty of things can be done between rushing from one chore to the other, and if you become aware of the world around you and the moment you’re in – you can take some beautiful photos even when you think you don’t have time for it.
How do you find time for photography in your life? If you do photography for a living, how do you find time for your personal passion projects? Feel free to write your suggestions.