Sometimes the hardest thing about photography is finding time to do it. After I bought my first DSLR camera, a Nikon D40, I used it almost every day. But as time went by, I took it out less and less. It even started to collect dust on my shelf.
It wasn’t just that the initial excitement about my new camera had waned. There was something more. I felt like I should be earning a living instead of playing with my new toy.
When I bought that camera I was working as an English teacher in South Korea. I remember thinking to myself, ‘if you have free time, you should be out teaching extra classes and making more money.’ I did for a while, until I burnt out.
“I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck. ” – Emma Goldman
Life felt kind of empty just going after more and more money. To change things up, I decided to dedicate a few hours each week to my hobby. I wouldn’t break my commitment for anything, no matter how much I tried to convince myself there was something more important to do.
One hour lead to two, then two to four. Soon I was carving out whole days to doing what I enjoy most. Now, almost 10 years later, photography is my career.
I’m not suggesting that you quit your job to follow your passion. All I’m saying is that there is more to life than making more.
When I look back, what I value most about my time in South Korea are the memories I have and the photos that accompany them – not the extra classes I taught. Nothing is worth more than the time I gave myself to create.
L is for Liberation
One of my favorite books is The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferrriss. In a chapter about how to liberate your lifestyle, he shares a great fable about focusing on the important things in life.
The Fisherman and The Fortune Hunter
An American businessman took a vacation to a small coastal Mexican village on doctor’s orders. Unable to sleep after an urgent phone call from the office the first morning, he walked out to the pier to clear his head. A small boat with just one fisherman had docked, and inside the boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.
“How long did it take you to catch them?” the American asked.
“Only a little while,” the Mexican replied in surprisingly good English.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The American then asked.
“I have enough to support my family and give a few to friends,” the Mexican said as he unloaded them into a basket.
“But…What do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican looked up and smiled. “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Julia, and stroll in the village each evening, where I sip win and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, señor.”
The American laughed and stood tall. “Sir, I’m a Harvard M.B.A. and can help you. You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. In no time, you could buy several boats with the increased haul. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”
He continued, “Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening up your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village, of course, and move to Mexico City, then to Los Angeles, and eventually New York City, where you could run your expanding enterprise with proper management.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, señor, how long will all this take?”
To which the American replied, “15-20 years. 25 tops.”
“But what then, señor?”
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right, you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”
“Millions, señor? Then what?”
“Then you would retire and move to a small coastal fishing village, where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, and stroll into the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”
Want to make time for photography but don’t know where to start? This is my favorite photo project idea.