What You've Probably Overlooked Now That Your Hobby is Your Career

What You've Probably Overlooked Now That Your Hobby is Your Career

For many professional photographers the path to this life started off as a creative outlet. It was birthed out of a need to escape the day to day grind that came from an unsatisfying career, stress, or creative boredom and experimentation . You started slow and with every hundredth of a second the passion grew. Eventually you scoured the internet to try to understand how to make that ominous jump from safe, secure life into pro photographer. Now you're where you dreamed of being but I'm willing to bet you've forgotten something crucial.

Your hobby is now your day to day career which means it's no longer a hobby. What did you replace it with? If you're like most people it's possible that you didn't replace it with anything, and that's a mistake. Hobbies are beyond important for us all. They can enhance our well-being and bring even more meaning into our lives. Studies have shown that people who further themselves through activities that interest them are less likely to suffer from anxieties, rage, depression and other negative feelings. What often happens when we turn our usual creative outlet into our primary source of income is that we begin to create to pay the bills rather than to express ourselves.

I think any creative that...well, creates for a living would agree: consistent, fresh creativity under fire can be very difficult and very draining.

This is why it's imperative that you give yourself another outlet now that your life has changed. You will make the same excuses as we've all made about how there's no time and maybe you'll get to it later. Make the time people. The same benefits and joy that you felt when you picked up photography will hit you again in a new way. Not only will you learn something new and grow more as a person, but your photography will grow as well. If we can agree that art is the expression of how you interpret the world around you, then we can agree that photography is the purest form of that expression. As you change and grow so does your perspective on the world around you. Your work can't help but evolve as you do.

Maybe this is all a bit rant-y but I keep seeing the same story with colleagues all over the world. If you're still with me there's one last, most important, benefit from finding another hobby to fall in love with. You will be far less likely to burn out on this career that you used to long to be able to do. Photography is a tough road and depending on your genre of it it may get far tougher in the future.

In other words, hobbies can help diminish the effects of a stressful job, and alleviate factors that contribute most to burnout.

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20 Comments

Ett Venter's picture

Man, I don't know.
Okay, so I'm your target audience with this article. Worked in IT, passionate about photography on the side, and then made the jump to pro. Today, photography is my job, and honestly, I can't bring myself to pursue another hobby in my spare time. Not because I don't want to, but because every minute I spend doing something else, is a minute I'm taking away from doing what I want to do all day - photography. There's a myriad of ideas and things I want to do with a camera, and I hate doing non-photographic activities with my spare time, because I could be taking photos.

That's just my 2c. I don't think of photography as my job. I think of it as "I'm waking up today to do what I WANT to do with my day. I'll also get paid when I'm done". I just can't bring myself to pour time into something else when my deepest desire is to create images.

I'd like to see your response in 5 or 10 years.

Exactly what i was going to say Cory. It's not to say that it WILL change for certain...there are rare people that will never get tired of clients and deadline and the tax man. Most of us are not like that. Eventually the grind gets to you and you need that stress relief.

More power to you if you never feel that way a day in your life. For me, there are days when I look at my computer and just have to go play disc golf or pick up the guitar instead. I need that break to recenter myself and continue to work at the level I do.

Ett Venter's picture

Maybe you guys are right, but where I am right now, I certainly don't feel that. Sure, there's stuff I don't enjoy. The hours and hours and hours I spend doing email every week, the clients that mess me around, etc etc, that stuff isn't great. But honestly, I enjoy my work so much. It's hard for me to accept that I get to do what I love all day for a living. Every day of my life is just amazing. And the fact that people hand me money to do something I'd honestly do for free, for FUN, is just amazing to me.

So yeah, I'm not really feeling what you guys are feeling, and maybe in 10 years I will, but for NOW - I'm not pouring one second of my free time into anything BUT the thing I WANT to do with my time, and that's photography :)

There is nothing wrong with that, and I don't think anyone means to imply that you'll eventually hate your life. We are all blessed to have a passion turn into a career. The point is more that developing another outlet is a healthy thing to do.

I think its also important to note that different hobbies will bring fresh perspectives and new leads into your creative work. Photography can bring you a glimpse of many worlds, but always being apart of them will limit the amount you do see, you can notice when a photographer really gets into a world, as opposed to just seeing it from the outside.

Thats what hobbies do, and help you connect with new people. Don't see it as time away from your photography, see it as a new perspective for your photography.

Well said!

Andrew Griswold's picture

Very well said David, cant agree with you more. You always have to continue exploring and searching for new avenues to create when you are a photographer designer etc. Being a full time designer I had been drained with the day to day workload that I decided to find a new venture in photography. Growing my little hobby into something greater by picking up small side projects and clients here and there. About 6 months ago I began to make sure I had stops in place to fill in the gaps of creativity and social aspects. Working too much is not the answer! Cant stress enough how important this is and I appreciate you bringing it to the others here on Fstoppers. Well done man!!

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Josiah Mendoza's picture

In my case, my full-time job is 4, 10-hour days. This gives me time to make photography my hobby, 3 days a week. I do understand that it could definitely burn someone out if worked full-time. The great thing about keeping my other job, is I get all of the health benefits, with a guaranteed paycheck. As much as I would want to make photography a career, this article would be the one thing that keeps me from doing it. My fear of lost passion. It keeps me plenty busy, but in the end, I get to take the jobs that I want, not because I have to. That keeps me loving what I do. Getting paid for my hobby is just a bonus.

great post

David Troyer's picture

I am a life long surfer turned surf photographer turned commercial
photographer with contracts with surf companies! So I still get to do
both of my hobbies every day and make a great living out of it...I am a
lucky man!!!

I want to echo a counterpoint I've heard other people say: Back when your creative now-profession was just a hobby, the things that you were doing full-time was probably not the same level of mentally draining creative work (usually). Having a full-time job that is creative work, then stacking more creative work (as a new hobby) on top of this can be really draining.

Just make sure that your new hobby is sufficiently different from your creative profession of choice.

I agree a hobby or something for yourself is healthy. The only part that didn't resonate with me was "Eventually you scoured the internet to try to understand how to make that ominous jump from safe, secure life into pro photographer." This made me chuckle a bit.

Back when I began pursuing photography as a career in 1995, there was barely an internet to scour. I was a broke college kid, so I joined the school newspaper. I learned on the job and used their film. Sometimes we were only given three frames of T-Max for one shoot, so we had to make them count. Maybe we got 12 frames for a basketball game. We got a whole whopping roll of 36 color negative for an NCAA Division I football game!

This led to a media/newspaper career for the next 15 years, until I went into industrial/PR.

Although I'm lucky enough to still be a full-time photographer, I'm always shooting for someone else, not purely for myself. I can't remember the last time I went out on my own shoot. I find myself longing to shoot personal projects or diving into other hobbies, but it's hard to make time for it all, married, with one kid.

If you are lucky enough to find passion in photography always shooting for a client or editor, pinch yourself every minute. I pinch myself about every other day.

It's absolutely hard to make that kind of time, but it's worth it.

I think I'm finally at a point now where I can make a little time. All the creative stuff out there, that's so accessible because of the Internet, is inspiring. I wish I were an amateur again! Not really, but I think you know what I mean.

I can totally relate to the amateur comment. 15 years as a pro and I envy the amateur. I think having love for a medium without having to send mailers and create invoices and tax forms is bliss...its the business part that kills me inside, but you would never know it if you met me. I dream of a world without money, where we can all be amateurs...;-)

Absolutely agree, when I didn't replace my hobby I lost passion for my old hobby! Now I'm finding it again. Thank you!

Very good point about the hobby 'hole'. I didn't at first & dedicated 342% of my life to making my career work. These days I've managed to have hobbies again. Like gaming. And mountain biking. I still view photography as a hobby, but just not as big as it used to be.