Photographers all start out at different periods in their lives. Some like me start out after they’re married with children. Some get married then have children. Other don’t get married yet have life partners. What makes this important is that our spouses can be our biggest supporters as photographers. Handled wrongly, they can also be our worst enemies. We all take different paths when it comes to mixing our photography life with our families. I have made some mistakes and learned from them. I have also managed to get some things right along the way.
Here are some dos and don’ts when dealing with spouses from my personal experience.
Make Your Intentions Clear
Do be clear on your intentions as a photographer. You have to decide whether it’s going to be a job or a hobby. Photography does not have to be a full-time job either. You have to make this clear to your spouse. Make your spouse aware of how your photography should be handled. This information will let your spouse know how they should support you. Spouses can help build your confidence and be willing test models. A well informed spouse can be your biggest supporter. They can help you learn your craft. They can also give you the time you need to develop your craft.
If you decide to make this a hobby Do Not go and volunteer for photography jobs. You will hurt three people if you choose this path. You hurt your spouse because you could be making extra money to pay for your hobby. You will hurt the working photographer who did not get the job because you were willing to do it for free. You may hurt the client as well. They may have certain levels of expectations you are not prepared for. If they are friends, this can harm that relationship. If you disappoint them , they will hold you accountable.
Honesty is the Best Policy
Do Be honest about the money you spend on your photography gear. Over time it can get expensive. Photography is not the cheapest craft. Gear lust is a real thing. Control your spending, as it affects your family. Make a list of your wants and needs as a photographer. Your spouse can help you put the money together or plan your purchase so you don’t hurt the family. This is especially important if you have kids. They may need the money before you. You can start a photography fund so that you always have money set aside for purchases you need to make. It makes life easier.
Do not show up at home with a $1200 lens and expect it to go over well. Whether you are rich or not, it does not matter. Spouses tend to like to know when spend a lot of money. You could be ruining a gift if you’re draining your bank account unexpectedly. When you’re sharing your life with someone, it is good to be open about things.
Have a Schedule
Do schedule things with your spouse. Usually, photography events have enough warning where you can let your spouse know when and where you’ll be. It’s also polite to check just in case they have plans that conflict. When you share your life with someone, you have to learn to compromise. Most events have a good amount of time between when they’re announced and when they actually happen.
Do not just get up and go to a photography event without prior notice. This can cause a lot of problems. If your spouse has something planned for your kids, you can cause conflict in the family. It’s about communication. You have to always share your plans.
Within Limits, Keep a Camera With You at All Times
Keep a camera with you at all times. Doing this helps you improve the quality of your photography. You will never kick yourself in the butt about missing a shot if you always have your camera. Some of the greatest images are spontaneous. It’s not about always being ready for a job, it’s about just being able to create an image whenever you want to.
Do not keep your camera in your family’s faces at all times. It can get annoying. Also know when to put the lens cap on. Not every moment needs to have the camera out. Families can become less supportive of your photography if it becomes overbearing. You don’t want to be the annoying relative, the one who’s invited to an event and finds that you’re in the way because the family member hired a professional photographer. If you’re a professional photographer, sometimes family wants you involved more in the event than working at it.
Pay Attention to Your Kids
If you have children, Do involve them in your photography. Photography is something cool to learn for any child. It’s especially cool when they are learning it form their parents. It can create a unique bond that transcends the years. Photography is something you can teach kids. Not as a career, but just for fun. It also enables you to get out there and shoot more.
Do not put photography before your children. If they don’t want to be involved, that is fine. Share your time with them though. Kids need attention. At every age show your kids you care. They need that. If you’re always on some photo excursion during your free time, they will resent you. You have to make time for your family outside of your photography. If it’s a job for you, have a clear line of demarcation. Know the difference between photography time and family time. The two can mix, but only a little.