Why Photographic Breaks are Okay
When I was first going to school for photojournalism, it was highly suggested that we carry our camera with us at all times. As a photojournalist, this is crucial. It’s important to be ready whenever something interesting takes place, breaking news unfolds or just because a photographer wants to make an image for the sake of making the image.
The gods of photojournalism like to play with photojournalists—or photographers in general, really—by producing incredible visually interesting moments when a photographer doesn’t have their camera. So, it can be important to have a photographic tool at the ready, IF that’s what’s important to you.
It’s a law written in the stone tablets of Phototopia that if you want something to happen that is unforgettable and impossible to explain, just forget your camera. Of course, having more-than-capable cameras on phones creates the prolific image-capturing world we now exist in, making continuous image documentation easier than ever.
In my close-knit circle of photo colleagues, I’d witness students, workshop attendees, professional photographers, etc., who were obsessed with photography. They were hungry and approached their image-making appetite with the voraciousness of a savannah lion.
And, it’s so true—to become a professional photographer takes a lot of work and determination.
What I’m getting at though, is that after some time I was beginning to encounter photographers who were burned out on photography. When the subject of making images would come up, many would hang their head and solemnly state their shame in setting their camera down for a bit. Admittedly, I’ve taken a break or two (it’s actually been many more than that) from making images.
Here’s the important thing though—it’s okay to take a break from photography!
After coming back to photography post creative hiatus, I always find that my creativity is more invigorated then ever before.
There’s a tendency to feel pressure to constantly photograph in order to achieve the best Instagram following ever, or to capture a prize-winning picture. Taking a pause with photography, though, can allow one to reassess photography and think about things like new photographic ideas; places to photograph; photographic aspirations; etc.
So, if you find yourself slowing your photographic pace and output, don’t fret. Use the time to think about what it is you’d like to achieve photographically and how to get there. Or simply think about nothing photographically at all.
Photography will be there waiting for you when you’re ready to return.