Recently I have been reflecting back on my time as a photographer and the experiences I have had over the last few years. It is amazing how happy I am with life at present to the point that I am having trouble communicating that to people, not that I need to.
One thing I am really starting to notice about photography is how my process has changed so consistently year after year. I guess that is a good thing as at no point have I felt stuck in a rut doing the same old thing.
I really believe that good photographers and ultimately good people are a result of better habits.
Here are some habits that I have changed that are leaving a positive impact on me as a photographer and a person:
- Instead of stressing out about meeting goals, deadlines, timelines, I have moved away from forms of metrics and am just doing what feels right.
- Instead of getting frustrated with my photographic process I am rolling with it and seeing where it takes me.
- Instead of getting frustrated by the results of my work I am seeing it as a positive step in the right direction.
This is no mean feet and takes some serious mental focus.
Trying to work within a flexible framework with positive habits keeps me on point and working away.
With this positive implementation in place I see myself looking forward to image making once again. It is leading to a happier experience as a photographer and as a person overall.
Why Develop Flexible Habits As A Photographer?
Photography is an ever moving beast with an industry that changes almost as often as the equipment. That said there will always be a place for the old school gear and methods. Photography is less about constant adoption and change for changes sake then it is about focus.
The root cause of most of the frustration, irritation, anger, sadness is the inflexiblity to deal with the changing landscape — Photographers that want to hold onto the way they do things, which is fine as long as you understand that there is an entire industry out there that moves will ever pulse of innovation.
So developing a flexible process and methodology is a way to be open to anything, happy with change, prepared for any situation.
Think about it: if there’s a major disruption in the industry, it’s only a bad thing because you’re holding onto the way you wish things could be, what you’re comfortable with. If you let go of that wish, the change isn’t bad. It’s just different, and in fact it could be good if you embrace it and see the opportunity.
It’s about developing the ability to cope with change, to be flexible, to simplify.
How: Small Practices
You don’t become flexible overnight — your mind isn’t as easy to change as your outfit. You have to develop mental habits with small changes, consistently over time.
- Make a commitment, for one week, to try to change the way you shoot. This might be the method or the process, the camera.
- Make a list of the things that trigger old photography habits and steer clear of them — being interrupted mid shoot, bad light, noise while editing
- Create reminders for when those triggers happen — paper notes, app reminders, journal entries.
- When the trigger happens, pause. Notice the change. Aknowledge it, but don’t act. Breathe.
- Try to see what you’re holding onto — wishing the driver would be more polite, wishing you could do what you were doing without interruptions, wishing other people would be perfect in cleaning up after themselves. These wishes are fantasies — let them go. Be open to the way things are, to changes that have happened. Breathe, open your heart, accept.
- Now respond appropriately, without wishing things were different, with compassion.
Repeat however many times you like during the week, or a minimum of once a day.
Please note that you will not be perfect at this when you start. It’s a difficult skill to learn, because we have emotional patterns that have built up over the years. It’s good enough to become more aware of it, and to attempt this method once a day. Be flexible in your desire to get this exactly right. Practice it when you remember for the rest of the year.
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