It’s okay to lose interest in photography

Dec 27, 2019

Andy Hutchinson

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Dec 27, 2019

Andy Hutchinson

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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Quite often when I’m browsing my Facebook photographic communities I see posts from people who are depressed because they have lost interest in their hobby. They usually say that they can’t work up the enthusiasm to get out there and photograph anything and that they haven’t even picked up their cameras in weeks, months or even years. They have lost their ‘phojo’ and they wonder if they’ll ever get it back. Well, I’m here to tell you that that is absolutely fine to lose your phojo, that you really ought to stop beating yourself up about it and that buying a new camera or lens will almost certainly not ‘fix’ things.

I’m a pretty serious photographer. Commercially it’s a side-hustle for me, but it’s definitely my number one hobby by a long way. I spend more time than I care to mention out and about taking landscape photographs and it has been that way most of my adult life. But as much as I love taking photographs and processing them and sharing them I often go through phases where I lose interest in landscape photography, when I sleep through the alarm rather than getting up for sunrise, when I stay home and watch Bosch with the missus rather than photograph a sunset. During these periods my photographic productivity nosedives, my social media sharing dries up and my camera sits idle. And you know what – that is absolutely fine.

In this tan-and-teal processed image, a photographer gazes meaningfully off into the distance and considers taking up knitting.

All the things we do in our spare time are driven by a simple love of that past-time, hobby or pursuit. Those precious hours when we are not working should be filled with things we love and that we want to do. The moment that a past-time, hobby or pursuit starts to feel forced or work-like or that you’re just going through the motions, you probably ought to take a break from it. It’s absolutely fine to leave your camera on the shelf.

Our interests rise and fall like all the natural cadences of our lives and if you force yourself to carry on you’ll probably end up making things worse in the long run. If your photographer friends are out there taking cool shots and filling their social media feeds with great imagery – so what? They’re on the upswing of their interest in their hobby and you’re on the downswing. Sometimes that downswing lasts much longer than the upswing, but I can guarantee you that one day in the not-so-distant future, your friends will be in the same position as you.

Some photographers try and compensate for their lack of interest by investing in new equipment – a new camera, a new lens, some filters – this doesn’t seem to help much. Sometimes photographers put down their cameras and they never pick them up again. And that’s perfectly cool too. I know a local photographer who was so successful that he had begun transitioning to full-time professional. He was producing great images, killing it on social media and seemingly on a rocket-ride into the upper echelons of the photographic community. But one day he just quit.

He had a few tepid comebacks where he’d post on his Facebook page and say things like, “Sorry I’ve been so quiet here guys, here’s an image I took,” or “Having a break from photography but hope to be back at it soon.” Next thing I knew he’d put all of his camera equipment up for sale and invested in fishing gear instead. He hasn’t taken a hobby photograph since, though he does post images of himself and his family enjoying themselves. And I say good for him. He recognised that photography was no longer for him and rather than forcing himself or bemoaning the cost of all the kit he’d purchased over the years, he pulled the pin. Maybe he’ll return to photography later on in life, maybe he won’t, but the bottom line is that he’s never been happier.

Our lives are cyclical. Daylight has physiological effects on our bodies. The changing seasons alter us mentally and physically. As we age, our bodies change over time and our brain chemistry with it. The problem is that we have stopped recognising this. Often we validate our photography through the lens of social media and begin to treat it like a job. We ignore those natural periods in our lives when things naturally enter a lull. But we dare not give the photography a rest for a while in case (the horror!) we lose followers. The end result is usually something we’re not very proud of and that, my friends, is the exact opposite of what a hobby, that we choose to pursue in our precious free time, should be.

If you genuinely love doing something then the outcome is utterly irrelevant, but it should feel like something you are proud of however objectively good or bad it is. And if you’re ignoring the natural cyclical nature of your interest in photography you’re probably making matters worse. Learn to accept that passions come and go, give your interest in photography some breathing space, and you might well find that you come back to it, reinvigorated and instilled once more with a sense of fascination, adventure and joy. As the song goes, “Let it go …”

About the Author

Andy Hutchinson is an English-born landscape photographer who now resides in Australia. He’s been making photographs for over 30 years, although “only seriously in the last ten” exploring South Coast in New South Wales. You can find out more about Andy on his website and follow his work on Facebook and Instagram. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

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12 responses to “It’s okay to lose interest in photography”

  1. Kristjan Czako Avatar
    Kristjan Czako

    I hope many “side- hustlers” will quit and their passion for photography die a slow death! So we professionals can serve our customers the quality they deserve again. This idea that you have to be an “artist” to be creative is bogus anyway, creativity is possible in any realm of work and play.

    1. Geoff Louis Avatar
      Geoff Louis

      Kristjan Czako You really have a point

    2. Brian Ramage Avatar
      Brian Ramage

      If it’s not the hobbyists, it’s the “clients” that think all they need is an iPhone.

      But sadly, those “side-hustle” hobbyists will never quit. They have their day job to pay the bills and are free and happy to shoot on the weekends for $50.

    3. Γιάννης Ιωσηφίδης Avatar
      Γιάννης Ιωσηφίδης

      Any “professional” that some “side hustlers” who lose their interest easily can threaten his job , how better of them can he be? Just a thought. ?

    4. Jan Bergersen Avatar
      Jan Bergersen

      Kristjan Czako Why? Shouldn’t you, as a professional, a craftsman, if that’s what you are, operate on a level far superior to the amateur, or ‘’side- hustler’’, making you the preferred choice of photographer for the customers?

  2. Sherri Vallie Avatar
    Sherri Vallie

    And someone once said when the passion lulls
    Use the time to explore other artistic creative activities

  3. Shachar Weis Avatar
    Shachar Weis

    I lost interest a few years ago, and then moved to the next level – 3D scanning. Now when I find something interesting I scan it (using my photography equipment).

    Example: https://sketchfab.com/3d-models/rusty-car-rc-fa0988b807b2488cacd38de7994392e6

  4. Del Robertson Somerville Avatar
    Del Robertson Somerville

    Pick up a guitar and start shredding to Pantera ?

  5. Mark Hanlon Avatar
    Mark Hanlon

    Help nonprofit organizations show impact

  6. Rebecca Maier Avatar
    Rebecca Maier

    Sometimes not always the people who make money are the people who are remembered. Lots of famous photographers were amateurs or nobody’s. Life isn’t always about money.

  7. Chris Wagner Avatar
    Chris Wagner

    it is disturbing to get a post like this, “Suggested for You” the morning after you post a ‘not quite happy with it’ photo. Someone trying to tell me something??

  8. Peggie Avatar
    Peggie

    Thank you for this article. I am currently in a “lull” and have seemed to have lost my “phojo”, which is annoying me. I have loved photography since I was a little girl, but recently, not so much. I am hoping to get it back. Your article came long at just the right time for me, thanks!