The New Year is a good opportunity to pursue new goals or finally get around to doing those things that have been on your long-list. However have you thought about not picking up a camera?
As photographers our raison d'etre is to take photos, notwithstanding that our reasons for making images may well be multi-faceted. The urge that pushes you out on to the street, in to the wilderness, or across to the studio can be the result of the creative urge, technical accomplishment, the warm glow of Instagram likes, or just because of a love of gear. But who cares why we get out there and do it as long as we keep on shooting. And what is remarkable about photography is that it is such an all-embracing, pan-societal, activity.
However as the first few days of January firmly take hold, maybe now is the time to consider putting your camera down and not taking any photos. It may seem heretical to consider stopping doing what you enjoy, but bear with me because I think there are three great reasons.
1. Burn Out
Everyone goes through periods of burn out where life, the universe, and everything gets the better of them. It may be too much work, too much photography, or too much life. Either way you may end up at a point in life — and New Year often seems to get that way — where you are exhausted. The simple answer to life's woes and worries is simple — take a break. Rest is something we all need and now is a good time to do it with the work and home stresses of the Christmas season out of the way.
2. Fall Back in Love
Every photographer goes through periods where they don't much feel like taking photos. It's natural to lose interest for stretches of time but there is no need to get stressed. A lack of photography can be a good thing in the same way that Dry January or fasting can purge the body, allowing you to come back refreshed and revitalized. As the saying goers
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
It may seem counterintuitive that not doing your creative pursuit can make you more creative, but it really can be the case. One of the problems of being a "creative" is that it isn't like painting a wall or digging a hole. Depending upon your type of photography, there is to a greater or lesser extent, artistic direction and you need to be able to harness that urge to create. As I've noted above, falling back in love with photography may well increase creativity, however take this a step further and allow those creative juices to flow without the constraint of having to produce something. That way they can flow unfettered allowing you to develop as an individual.
One method I've found that can work well is to:
Look but don't take.
That is, purposefully go out as if you were actually shooting, but instead of making photos, make a creative logbook. Use the time to think about what you would shoot and how you would shoot it. By removing the constraint of actually creating the photo you envisage, you can focus instead on the process of coming up with ideas. Start by jotting down a sentence that describes the image or go further and sketch how it might look, along with notes on how you would go about creating it. The latter might even resemble a call sheet.
In addition to these three great reasons, do you have any others that show how taking a break can be good for your photography? Have you any tips or recommendations for other readers? Vote now and see how many others are in the same boat as you.