November Is a Good Month to Fill Your Idle Time With Thought

November Is a Good Month to Fill Your Idle Time With Thought

In November, some of us have less projects to work on, and it might be smart to not just idle, but make the best of it. Thinking about photography and business is a good idea to be prepared for whatever is coming next.

The Perfect Time to Muse

The last two months of the year have started, and before you get into the rush of planning your Christmas Eve and joining the hustle of your local shopping mall, you might use the coming days for a little reflection. As the days get shorter and colder, the world becomes less inviting for wedding photography, outdoor shooting, or portraits of suntanned models. Sadly, the colors of autumn will soon only be found on the ground.

Maybe you’re like me, and your daily routine eases up by the end of the year. When November comes, it always brings a little piece of melancholia to me, which is not too much to bring me down, but enough to make me reflect about my young life in an almost nostalgic, romantic manner. I find some time to sit at the hot fire (okay, I use the radiator or a blanket), read a book, and have a hot cup of tea. The time might also be inviting to muse a while about what is coming next, what you have achieved, and where you want to go. Making long-term plans often takes some time, and if you made them until new year, you’ll be ready to tell all your friends about your goals in 2020. Okay, it’s a little early, but the time’s still right.

It's crazy, but already by the end of October, everyone is preparing for Christmas, over here.

Our Daily Routine

Too often, we’re stuck in a daily routine that keeps us too busy to halt, sit down, and check what we’re actually doing. We just do it, because it’s our business, our desire, or just part of our life. Making images can very often be driven by forces from the outside. A client wants pictures, your family wants food, and you really want to buy that new lens. You just work, because it’s what you have to do.

In other cases, especially for upcoming photographers, your routine can also be driven by desire. You want to shoot something, because you want to become a photographer. You jump from one project to the other, just because it’s an opportunity. You started out shooting portraits for friends, until a friend’s friend asked you to shoot his family’s portrait. Because you did quite well, the father asked you to shoot images of his small enterprise and you went crazy, because it was your first well-paid job. One of the guys loves cars and asks you if you could also photograph cars. Of course, you do, and somehow, you manage to get into the scene. But didn’t you want to do pet photography?

Reflect on Your Work

If you have worked hard during the last year and jumped from one project to the next, it might be helpful to look at your achievements. Did you always manage to give your best? Did you develop your style and deliver the right quality to your customers? By figuring out which photographs you like the most, you can also get to know your ingredients for successful photography. Remember how the situation felt, how you've planned the shot in advance, and why the communication with the client or model worked so well.

Of course, you should also reflect on your projects directly after you shoot them. Most of us will make a comprehensive analysis while we are post-processing and selecting images of a session. Yet, after a little period of time, you might be able to ignore the highs and lows, which usually go hand in hand with a project. You’ve got the necessary distance and can think about them in a more unbiased manner. Take your lessons, and see how you can repeat the good things and learn from the bad ones.

There's one good thing in November: The golden hour is really golden.

Slow Down to Give Yourself Direction

Coming to talk about reflecting on the good and bad aspects of your photography, it might be even better to check your whole direction. As in the examples given above, you might not have had the time to think about the big picture, because the opportunities to work were just right. If you’re already running a business, you might want to think about strategies to reach your costumers. Maybe you want to focus on a different group of clients, because you realized that your quality and portfolio of services became so good. It’s time to attract a higher budget. When was the last time that you checked if your charges were suitable for your work?

If you’ve just started photography, you might want to check what you’re good at and which direction is suitable for you. If you've been busy taking every chance to improve your photography skills, no matter in which field, taking a rest and sorting things out will help your further development. Where do you see yourself in the future? What was most enjoyable for you? Make a plan, check which equipment you’ll need (most of the time, it’s less than you think), and how you can reach what you aim at. Having a plan is not a guarantee that everything will turn out fine, but it pushes you a little more into the right direction.

A good plan and good reasoning will also teach you where you have to invest. By writing this, I don’t mean running after the latest gear. Investment can also be yourself and your family. It’s time and money. Some people are so stuck in their routine that they don’t realize when they’re indeed in the comfortable situation of slowing down, because their business is running well. Sometimes, it’s good to step back a little. It’s necessary to hustle every now and then, but eventually, there should be some time to rest.

In the cold days, I spend a lot more time reading, which gives me inspiration for the future.

Enjoy the Coming Months

No matter if you start becoming melancholic these days, don’t know why the people from the north moan so much about cold weather, or if you are simply idling a little, halting to redirect yourself can be a good idea. By doing so, you do not only give yourself time to work on your photography business and skills, but you can also take a deep breath and recover for a while.

Nils Heininger's picture

Nils Heininger is a photographer on the road. He loves long rides on motorbikes, camels and old trains. While discovering the world, he uses his camera to share stories from people across the globe. With a Micro-four thirds in his pocket and a full-frame in his bag, he's always ready for new adventures.

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Great article Nils - thank you! I've just spent the last 6 months developing my first website to be launched any day now: It's been a great way to reflect on my 50+ years of photography as a hobby, and I'm now much clearer what and how I'll be focusing on (ha ha) and more importantly - why!

Idle time.
With 2 small kids I’ve forgotten what that is. 😁

I've been there! Oldest is 41 now!

Me too... 25,21. Then I started again. 3 and 5 months.
Mad, me? Completely bonkers. 😁

The outdoor lighting, with the sun low in the horizon (N. Hemisphere) is a beautiful time for photography too. The quality of natural light is some of the best in the year.

I have been travelling a bit this year for work (and a bit more personally) and managed to bring compact equipment with me. I often find more time between meetings, etc. then I do at home to go out an explore and shoot.

Spot on Mark. The light this time of year can be outrageously good, but very fleeting. While I agree with the article about spending time thinking about where your photography is at and where its going this time of year for the landscape photographer presents interesting opportunities.

I find it funny that you think of November as a slower time, where there is time for contemplation.

As a wildlife photographer, my whole year revolves around November. Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, and Bighorn Sheep all rut in November, making this the most insanely busy time of the entire year.

For those of us whose businesses rely heavily upon selling photos of these big game animals. we spend all year trying to optimize our plans for the upcoming November. Just yesterday I received text messages from one wildlife photographer and DMs on Instagram from another, asking about my plans for November 2020.

Most of us spend the majority of the month traveling to "mecca" locations for these three species, zipping back and forth across the U.S. like crazy, dashing from Montana to Colorado to Tennessee to Oregon and Virginia ...... an insane rat race to capture all the breeding action we possibly can before it all comes to an end at the end of the month.

I will not spend one night in my home state this coming November, because the time is simply too valuable, and I have to be out shooting for all I am worth before this special time of year comes to a crashing halt the week after Thanksgiving. Hundreds of other wildlife professionals and hobbyists do likewise.

I wish there were time to muse and contemplate, the way you suggest in this article ..... but for those of us who photograph big game animals, that will never be possible.