Look, I get it. I really do. You’ve been slogging away at your day job from 9 to 5 and now you’re home and tired and you know that you need to do a photo shoot even though you can’t find the energy. Or maybe you have the energy but don’t know what the hell to shoot because your brain feels like mush from answering emails all day. It’s ok, we’ve all been there. I deal with that every day.
Staying Creative After the Daily Grind
Balancing a day job with creative photography is difficult at best and a nightmare at worst. So what can you do to alleviate this? How can you find that balance? How Can You Reconcile Your Daily Job With A Passion For Photography?
Everyone is going to be different and what works for me might not work for you but I have a few tips that have helped me these last few years balance my day job with my photo life.
Get Into a Routine
Getting into a shooting routine after work is the most difficult thing to start but once you have it started, it’s the best way to keep you going. This is my number one rule that I follow. Simply put, just set aside a time for yourself every day to shoot. It sounds easy but sticking to that routine at first is the difficult part.
You don’t need to have a big, elaborate production planned – It could just be you taking a walk with your camera in hand, it’s just about getting into that habit of photographing every day and setting aside time for that. Some of the best photos I’ve taken have been from me just strolling through my neighborhood on some weekday afternoon.
This is the photography equivalent of an illustrator sketching every day. This is our sketching, this is our time to put ourselves in the shooting mood. After you’ve done it a few times, it’ll turn into a daily routine, like taking out the trash or going to the store.
You might get some gems on these photo shoots or maybe they’ll just lay the groundwork for a larger project you can tackle on the weekend. The important thing is to shoot and to shoot every day.
Connect with Other Photographers
Share ideas. Share in the struggle of finding time to photograph. Share strength and horror stories but just share.
I have a close group of friends that I started a facebook group with. We share projects and stories and once a month we’ll get together on the weekends to photograph together. It’s easier to shoot when you know other people are going through the same hesitations and struggles. It’s almost become a support group for us, a place where we can vent and grow together.
Where the hell is my muse?
Does this sound familiar? „I just don’t know what to shoot.”
I hear that a lot from my friends and I’ve uttered those words myself. When I was first starting out those words became a crutch and an easy excuse for me. I would tell myself that I’d go shoot once I had a solid idea. Ideas rarely come when you aren’t out there photographing though. You need to be immersed in it for those sparks to start making electricity.
Inspiration is out there in the world, you just need to get out there and find it. I don’t want to make it seem like you always need to photograph outside either. A lot of times I’ll set up different lighting in my living room and practice portraiture by taking self-portraits. Some of those self-portrait studies have gone on into galleries and shows and it was just me trying to find my muse. Inspiration comes towards action.
Balancing photography and the day job is difficult, no one is saying that it isn’t. The key to that difficulty is tackling it in different ways with routines and other photographers backing you up.
Like I said, these tips might not work for everyone, but it helped me out a great deal and if you struggle with the doing your day job and trying to be creative afterward. Hopefully, they’ll help you too.
This post has been written by Hamilton Y. Ward a videographer, illustrator, and designer based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Hamilton is currently showing work in the ZaPOW! Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina, as well as White Walls Gallery in Forest City North Carolina. He takes inspiration from Pop Culture, video games, 1940’s Americana and Southern Folklore and Legends.