Most people know the struggle about work/life balance all too well; juggling work, family, friends, etc, but throw in a hobby, interest, or part-time profession that you’re passionate about and it can make things even more difficult to manage.
Do you need to set aside time for your photography, or can you integrate it with the everyday things that’s going on in your life? Here are a few simple, but effective ways to incorporate your love of photography into your love of life:
Photograph your family – this sounds really simple and obvious, and it is. I find there is no better way of maintaining touch with photography when times are busy than to photograph family; it’s a subject that’s close to your heart and can offer all the inspiration you need to snap away. One of the best tips I can offer here is not to only take photos of the family on the day; as a photographer you really only ever see what's in front of you. Make sure you look up, look down and take in the surroundings. Capture a landscape image, a close-up of a rock, or anything else that will help produce the overall feeling of the day.
Photograph your friends – This is best done on trips to the beach, picnics, garden parties and such-like where carrying your camera equipment won’t cause you too many issues. It’s probably sensible to avoided taking your expensive camera gear with you on a drunken night out; however, there is nothing restrictive about doing so if you're all going for lunch in a bar or for a coffee at Starbucks, or even on a shopping trip. Some of the candid shots you’ll capture will be priceless!
Do some photography at home while the kids are having a nap or doing their own thing – whether this is by setting up a tripod and practising some macro photography at home, or using your imagination to photograph everyday items within your home in a new and interesting way. The challenge of being restricted to one place for the afternoon can really bring out your creativity.
Set yourself a photo project that fits around your lifestyle – there are many, many, different ideas on setting yourself a project. Photography projects are great because you set the boundaries and decide what the theme will be, what you will photograph, when, and how often. A simple example is photographing numbers or letter that are found in your everyday environment; this could be on the journey to work, the shops, at home or even on the school run. Try to collect all the numbers from ‘1’ to ‘100’, or the full alphabet. This can be one image per day, or even as little as one image per week…you decide!
Re-touch your old photographs – I'm sure you have lots of photos on your PC or laptop that you've taken over the years. As your skills as a photographer, and your editing abilities, develop it can always be helpful to look back through old images that you have taken. Select a few images that you would like to improve and get to work adding different effects and edits. These may not be new images, per se, but if you don’t have the opportunity to take new images, re-master the old ones you do have.
Buy a photography magazine – improve your photography skills by reading up on the latest techniques and skills, and when you do have a spare moment, you’ll be ready to get started on making new and inspiring images with all the new techniques you've read about. There are also many on-line photography magazines that you can browse for free, either at home or on the train to work.
Take your camera everywhere you go – I know this sounds like a bit of a cliché and sometimes it’s not always practical to do so, however, a good photographer friend of mine goes to the length of taking her camera to the cinema, and even on the morning walk to school with her kids. Does she get funny looks from those around her? Yes! Do some of the other parents think she’s a bit 'off-the-wall'? Yes! However, she does capture some of the most amazing images you could imagine, which would be lost opportunities if she didn't have her camera gear with her.
The biggest challenge a lot of amateur photographers will find with the above steps is having the confidence to be out and about with their camera. People will look at you, they will wonder what on earth you are doing, and they may even go as far as avoiding you on your side of the street. But, be confident wherever you and your camera are, confidence breeds great images!