Stop the Stress, Create for Yourself

Stop the Stress, Create for Yourself

As the year begins, people are making resolutions and setting goals. Add in the constant social media trends and photographer communities saying how things should be, and it can be overwhelming and a source of stress. Despite all of that, remember to create for yourself and be true to your vision.

Goal Setting

The resolutions and setting of goals is just one element of the pressure a photographer can begin to feel. Reflecting and setting goals for the year ahead is important, I do it for my photography and business. But make sure you are setting goals that are appropriate for you, not borrowing goals from someone else who might have different objectives for their photography.

I often see this happen, where Photographer A is out trying to make money from their photography and Photographer B likes just to take pictures as a source of stress relief. Then, Photographer B starts to feel anxious because they feel like they aren’t doing enough or are self-conscious about their work.

It is essential to realize our goals for photography can be quite different. Photographer A will have much different goals than someone who simply wants to go outside to take nice pictures with no desire to make money from their photos but simply improve their craft.

Before setting goals, consider your objective with photography and don’t base your goals on what other photographers are doing. Their path and objective are likely very different than yours.

There is also the stress from social media as different trends emerge and then as a creative questioning whether you should follow the trend for the likes. It can often seem every other photographer out there is doing something different than you and feeling like you need to adapt.

Trends can range from color grading (remember teal and orange?) to photographing in black and white, to street photography being the in thing, to small scenes in landscape photography. Before you know it, you don’t know which way to go and quickly grow tired of chasing trends. 

Don’t chase the trends. Simply be true to yourself and your creative vision. Your creative vision isn’t always going to align with current trends. But staying true to your creative vision will help you further refine that style, get better at that style, and eventually become known for that style.

If you go from one trend to the next, you simply blend in with others doing the same thing. Additionally, you never really get the chance to master the type of photography or editing style that energizes you. Chasing trends is tiring and often more about pleasing others than fulfilling your own creative vision.

Finding Your Vision

How do you find your vision? Initially, I recommend getting out and photographing anything that seems remotely interesting to you. What gives you energy? What excites you about going out (or to the studio) and photographing something or someone?

I’ve done a lot of landscape photography, dabbled in street photography, photographed many events, portraits, and corporate headshots. I tried to force myself to like portrait photography for a long time, but eventually, I realized I wasn’t excited about portrait photography.  I decided to put my time and energy into landscape photography.

Even within genres of photography, there is still an element of being true to yourself and your vision. I love to photograph waterfalls, and within the landscape photography community, that can be cliché. But I like it, I find the whole experience relaxing, from the visual to the sound of the flowing water. I stay true to that vision and continue to photograph waterfalls to this day. 

I still photograph other landscape photography subjects, there is always room for growth. But I don’t not photograph certain landscape photography scenes simply because a contingent of photographers think something is overdone. I go out there, enjoy it, and work on my own creative vision.

How about you? Do you stay true to what brought you to the world of photography? Do you still photograph images for your creative vision? Or do you feel the pressure from others to do things one way or another based on the current perception?

Jeffrey Tadlock's picture

Jeffrey Tadlock is an Ohio-based landscape photographer with frequent travels regionally and within the US to explore various landscapes. Jeffrey enjoys the process and experience of capturing images as much as the final image itself.

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Thank you thank you 😊😊..just the sort of advise I am looking for..started photographing after 5 years gap and I feel so inundated with insta/reels/shorts etc with so many ideas/views..I am just throwing myself at buying so much gear ( drone, action3 pocket3,new mirrorless camera,lenses, tripod,filter kit)..and don't even get me started on bags ..sheesh..I just feel so overwhelmed.Now everyday I feel I am not doing justice to the thousands I have spent ..I have watched 100s of YouTube videos and shorts on what not todos, why 40mm is the new 50mm, why 1 bag travel is needed , how pocket3 is decimating gimbal market, full loadouts with newest backpacks ...

Now I am looking for a 2nd body with recipes SooC so I can also post instantly to social media without post processing !!!(I haven't even used that many features of the 2k Nikon camera in 2 months)

I am an amateur ..I have so much to learn..but I feel so much pressure to learn stuff quickly ..lest my pics become "outdated".

Thanks for reminding me why I like this hobby..but I am addicted to tech and gear 😔😔😔

It is so easy to get overwhelmed, especially in the beginning. Seeing what’s going on on social media and then differentiating between a trend and anything else - it all adds up!

I think as you sort out what your main interest is - using the test of is this [insert type of photography] causing me anxiety or is it contributing to my happiness. Eventually you find your passion in photography and know which form is most true to you.

Great photography will never be outdated. We can still marvel at photography from over 80 years ago and consider some of those photographers as masters of the craft. Also you shouldn't have to feel any pressure to learn stuff quickly. Photography takes time and you won't become a master just from watching a five minute video claiming to share some photography secrets that will fast track you to becoming a pro. You have to just go out, shoot and be patient. You will take many many hundreds of photos and only a handful of them will truly meet your satisfaction. I can spend a few months just going out and never capturing anything I consider exceptional but when it does happen it feels very rewarding.

Great point of not trying to learn too fast and become overwhelmed. It can take years to practice certain concepts and master them. That’s one of the things I like about photography, the constant challenge. I learn one thing, and now there is another nuance to master.

'Trends can range from color grading (remember teal and orange?) to photographing in black and white, to street photography being the in thing...'

Agree and I can't stand trends although I don't count black and white or street photography as trends, especially amongst any photographers taking one or both of them seriously.

Just shoot what you feel passionate about and great photos will always be great photos and should stand the test of time. Silly things like trends will age badly very quickly.

Trendy might be the wrong word for black and white and street photography. There is definitely classic work amongst both genres. Maybe more, don’t feel pressure to photograph those due to rises in popularity if that type of photography doesn’t call to you.

Agreed - that no matter what, shoot what you feel passionate about and great photos will emerge!

Black and white and colour photography are two very different disciplines and each will have a huge influence on the subjects you photograph, that is if you have intent to specifically use one or the other before going out on a photography trip. I guess the downside to modern RAW editing is it's too easy just to shoot a photo then make it black and white whilst editing as an afterthought. Some photos take on a life of their own in black and white and others definitely don't.

Thanks Jeffrey tadlock ..for some reason I am unable to like your reply to my comment..