Whenever I discover something important or valuable to me, I inevitably wish I'd started it earlier. Areas of photography are no exception. So what do you wish you had started sooner?
Nearly a decade ago, I had a sudden surge of motivation and direction: I wanted to merge my love for writing with my love for photography. I didn't really care if people read it, I just wanted to do it, and most importantly, do it consistently. So, like most photographers, I started my own blog. I stuck to it for quite a few years before writing freelance and then for Fstoppers. I distinctly remember that after just a few weeks of writing, one of my articles did quite well (in the context of my views back then, at least!). Although I was pleased that I was now writing regularly about my passion, the pleasure was heavily laced with a blend of disappointment and regret than I hadn't started sooner, a reaction I've had every time shortly after finding something I feel strongly about.
"Hindsight is a powerful thing," you'll hear them say. It is, but to degrees. A deathbed realization that you weren't a great father is somewhat worse than wishing you'd started getting eight hours of sleep sooner. I also believe that the potency of your regret and the timeline are sliding scales, and, at least potentially, you can expedite your discovery of a new passion or skill you wish to cultivate. That's what this article and the comment section is all about. I want to discuss the things you wish you'd started sooner and reaped even more benefits than you have. Maybe you'll prompt a reader down a path slightly earlier, and it'll pay dividends for them down the line. With that in mind, here are three areas I wish I'd been swifter to begin.
This sounds ridiculous for somebody who is not only a full-time photographer, but somebody who writes and reads about it daily, works on a very large photography website, and is passionate about the medium. However, it wasn't that long ago that I realized the more "success" I was having at working in this industry, the less I seemed to actually use my camera. I was caught out by only being a photographer on important and scheduled shoots, and it was eating away at my will to have a camera by my side at all times. I used to shoot anything and everything. Most were throwaways or dull, but I didn't care. Somehow, I'd slipped in to a regime where I simply couldn't be bothered to take my camera if it wasn't guaranteed I'd come back with good shots.
In all honesty, it took me too long to fix, and I'm still consciously fixing it.
I hate this word. I hate the image it conjures too: sweaty, middle-aged local folk, in a hotel's function room early one morning, ritualistically swapping business cards like Panini stickers. In fact, my straw man argument against networking was the reason I recoiled at any formal opportunity to do so. Thankfully, I eventually came to understand that the best networking doesn't have that word anywhere near it. I started going to events within my industries (that is, photography and things I photograph) and just chatting with other people interested in the same stuff as I am. Before I knew what I was doing, I was not long seeing the benefits in my business, but I was able to act as a middle man to help other people out too.
I write more now than I ever have. In fact, I'd go as far as to say I've just steadily increased the amount I write since I first started. In February, I wrote over 32,000 words on photography-related topics alone. I'm not dissatisfied with how much I write now, but I am irked by how long it took me to hit my stride. Very little has changed in my ability to herd words on a page. The only obvious difference is my discipline, motivation, and appreciation for consistency (which is a sort of meta regret that underpins all the others.)
Over to You
What do you wish you had started sooner? It truly can be anything. A photographer once told me that he wish he'd started going for a walk every morning before work, years before he did as the benefits were numerous. Perhaps, however, it's a photographic technique you regret not honing. Share yours in the comments below and potentially impact some fellow human on a different part of the planet for the better.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.