On Finding Time to Shoot

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway traffic at dawn. (Copyright 2009/Madeleine Boyd)

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway at dawn. (Copyright 2009/Madeleine Boyd)

Finding time to shoot your own personal photography is one of the toughest challenges we all face.

Once you get beyond work you have been commissioned to shoot, finding time for your own personal photography can be a challenge, whether you are a seasoned pro or not. All of life’s other obligations come pressing in upon you, demanding time.

Newspaper photographers used to get tasked frequently with finding a feature image for the next day’s paper (this requirement has dropped considerably as papers have shrunk in size in response to the changing business climate for “dead tree”(paper), non-online editions). But it still comes up and is known in the business as “cruising for wild art.”

This can be a maddening and frustrating activity as invariably nothing appears worth shooting when you have a limited, specific amount of time to find anything.

The best “wild art” always appears when you’re on your way to another pressing assignment, usually one that you’re late for already. Do you stop and shoot the found situation or plan to come back and get it later? Invariably, if you don’t stop and shoot that image right then, it won’t be there for you later. Good photographs wait for no one!

Finding time to shoot your personal photo projects works the same way. Time will never magically open up for you to get these projects done. It only happens when you make them a priority and schedule the time for them. Then, you must stick to what you’ve scheduled!

Like the “pay yourself first” concept in personal finance,  “shoot your own stuff first”  helps get you out the door, the hardest piece of this.

“Out the door” means out and away from all of your other projects and constraints, and puts you back into the position of pure shooter.

I find that unless I plan and schedule my personal shooting time, it never happens. Life is so complicated and busy! Yet if I get “out the door,” the results are always gratifying. Even if everything doesn’t pan out on the shoot, I always come back refreshed and energized, usually with three more ideas for things I want to pursue photographically. This is so important for your long-term sanity if you want to maintain a freshness to your work.

My teenaged daughter and I went on an “out the door” shooting hunt yesterday morning, leaving before dawn to be in the New Orleans French Quarter when the sun came up. The light over Lake Pontchartrain was promising, dark clouds breaking up after yesterday’s showers. Once we got into the city though, the clouds were still thick, leaving things a muddy and dull gray.

Egret in flight, Audubon Park rookery. (Copyright 2009/Andrew Boyd)

Egret in flight, Audubon Park rookery. (Copyright 2009/Andrew Boyd)

But we scouted locations, ate beignets at Café du Monde and photographed the rookery in Audubon Park uptown. Then on the drive home, the light on Pontchartrain was stunning as bright and sparkle hit the water through dark clouds above. Fantastic! Driving the car, I handed the camera to my daughter and rolled the window down:

Storm Clouds Break, Lake Pontchartrain. (Copyright 2009/Madeleine Boyd)

Storm Clouds Break, Lake Pontchartrain. (Copyright 2009/Madeleine Boyd)

Not a bad morning of photography after all.

Posted in: Inspire

About the Author:

Photographer, videographer and photo editor. Host and creator of The Discerning Photographer web site. Currently a Canon shooter.

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