Making time

We all live busy lives, and even if photography is your passion, it’s often hard to find time to pursue it. We need to make dinner/breakfast/lunch for the family. We to go to work then drop off/pick up the kids from school, soccer, gymnastics, etc. Then there’s grocery/clothes/back-to-school shopping to be done along with numerous of other errands. I have to admit that even I, whose job it is to take pictures, can have a hard time finding time to take the pictures that I want.

On the Light Stalking website, professional photographer Rachael Towne wrote an article on how to find time for your photography.

Towne first suggests that we look at how we spend our time. I know that I spend too much time watching TV or surfing the Internet, so there is some time I can find there.

But most people are very busy, and many of those obligations that we all have are tough to get out of.

She does make a useful suggestion for those of us who have children. Take them along with you on your photo outing. They can even be the subject of your photos. Of course, if they’re really young, it’s more difficult, but as they get older and more self-sufficient, the easier it’ll become.

Towne’s next suggestion is perhaps most important: Always keep your camera with you. You can’t take a picture without one.

I can’t tell you how many times people have come up to me and told me about a beautiful sunset or an adorable moment with their kid only to be followed by the sentence: “… but I didn’t have a camera with me.” The first rule of photography is “always have a camera.” It doesn’t have to be a big bulky DSLR or even a small point-and-shoot camera.

If I’m taking a quick jaunt down to the supermarket, I probably won’t take my work camera, but I will have my cellphone. Occasionally, I’ll take a photo with it that’s good enough to stand on its own. Other times, I’ll take photos of little things that might not make a great picture but may have a kernel of something interesting, sort of like photographic notes or ideas to use at another time.

Towne goes on to suggest making a photo schedule for yourself. Set aside some time just to go out and take some pictures; maybe put those chores on hold just for a little while.

When St. Mary’s High School sophomore Sydney Spurgeon took up photography, her parents not only encouraged in her interests but took another step. They sat down with her and came up with “assignments” for her to shoot. Together they think of events or themes for her to photograph and go with her on her photo safaris. The result is a budding young photographic talent with a bright future.

When I was taking photo classes, one of my assignments was called “Out your back door.” Due to familiarity, we often ignore the things and places that are close to us. We tend to think that we need to go off to far away and exotic lands to make great photos. With the “back door” assignment, the idea was to explore someplace that is close to you and find something interesting. Once you have that mastered then you can go anywhere, far or near, and make compelling photos.

Finally, Towne says to quit making excuses. We’ve all done it. “I don’t have the right lens,” or “the light’s bad” or any number of other excuses. Recently I traveled up to Highway 4 to Angels Camp for an assignment. Just outside of Copperopolis is this gnarled old tree on a hillside. It sits atop of a low-rolling hill. An old stone fence connected to a slightly newer barbed wire one makes a “Z”-like composition in combination with a smaller, rounded hill in the foreground. I’ve always wanted to stop and take a picture of it, but in my more than 29 years at The Record, I never had. I never had the time, or the light wasn’t right, or the clouds were all wrong. I never even made time to go on a day off either.

On this trip there were some decent clouds, but the light was just so-so, I thought. The grass on the hill was all dried and brown. It would be better if I came back in the spring when the grass would be green and vibrant. Once again I made excuses, and I started to pass it by. Then I thought to myself, “When am I going to have another chance? What if something happened to the tree, like a wildfire or bolt of lightning and it’s gone forever?” Even though the clock was ticking, I turned the car around and went back. I stopped the car and got out. It may not have been perfect, but I still took the picture.

Sometimes you just have to get off of your duff and start taking pictures. We all need to take inspiration from athletic shoemaker Nike’s tag line and “just do it.”

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