The Dangers of Photographers Having Too Little to Do

The pandemic has forced many photographers to do much less of what they love in 2020. While many have relished in some downtime, the negative effects of having too little on could be doing some serious harm.

I think we've all had moments in our hectic lives when a little time to do absolutely nothing is an incredibly attractive prospect. Many of us are aware that too much work is bad for us, but how many think about the implications of doing too little? This week, the team over at The School of Life are back to explore this very subject in their latest video.

Philosopher and author Alain de Botton talks about how having nothing left to do work-wise can be a very dangerous challenge for our psyches, as it can bring on despair and self-loathing. I have to admit that I have experienced these feelings at times in my career and while they are not always easy things to work through, being able to put your finger on why you feel like you do can be a great starting point for recovery. The video goes on to talk about how the mind works deceptively to motivate us to finish projects by promising that it will be content once things are finished. In reality, the moment the downtime comes we begin to feel guilty that we should be doing something else. One idea that de Botton suggests to combat this is the notion of always having projects on the go as a way to insulate us from mental unwellness. I can only speak for myself, but I know that finding a sweet spot between being too busy and too quiet, is when I'm most happy and productive. This is why I always advocate for creatives to juggle both personal and professional projects at all times. Not only does this keep all the various photography related reflexes sharp, but it also leads to a much healthier, well rounded, and content photographer.

Lead image by Daria Shevtsova, used under Creative Commons.  

Paul Parker's picture

Paul Parker is a commercial and fine art photographer. On the rare occasion he's not doing photography he loves being outdoors, people watching, and writing awkward "About Me" statements on websites...

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I've been doing ok during the pandemic, but last year I was unemployed for several months after I was laid off from my day job. What I found really helped me was setting myself up with a routine, which included blocking out time for certain activities. That, and I had a part time temp job that, while it didn't pay much, did give me that bit of external motivation that really helped me get on a roll.

I used the time to finish a years-long photo project and turn it into a coffee table book. But once I finished that, I definitely felt a little lost for a bit. My solution? Another project!