If you work out, you know that you end up hurting after you start working on new muscles. I’ve been known to joke around that I have a six pack stomach, and that it’s just hidden by layers of fat. Muscles are physical pieces of matter, and eventually wear down, tear, regrow, become stronger, and need care. Photography, whether we think about it or not, is similar to working out a muscle or groups of muscles. We’re not going to go to the Olympics and strongman competitions to show off that we can lift that 70-200mm f2.8 lens, but our photography becomes stronger the more that we exercise it.
But like exercising a physical muscle, it can be done too often and eventually the muscle won’t be able to handle all of the rigors that it is being put through.
And again, this is like photography.
Every single photographer goes through periods of too much work and needs a break or needs to evolve into doing new types of work to keep their creativity up. In fact, professional photographers suffer from this problem the most.
Zack Arias said it best himself:
“I’m learning that the images I’m tired of making are the ones that my clients hire me for. To me, they are old and dated in style and flavor. To them, they are their own and personal. I’m trying to grow and evolve as a photographer. I had these high hopes of working on a brand new portfolio this year by shooting one portfolio piece a month for the next 24 months. I’d spend two years making a new book of portraits. Something fresh and new and personal for me. I should be 7 or 8 portraits into that book right now.
I haven’t shot one fucking picture for it.
I’m learning that being a working professional photographer isn’t always the right thing to do if you really want to do photography for the love of it. If you want to find your own vision and create for your self. I spend so much time creating work for others that I have no time or energy left for myself. Street photography is my one little escape and I’m thankful for that but it isn’t enough.
I have to build this new portrait book. I have to or I’m going to go insane.”
Photography is a muscle that needs a break every now and then. So yes, we keep repeating this, but how do you apply it to your life?
Every single photographer goes through dry spells for inspiration and where they don’t grow. They become frustrated with their work and strive to find some way to become better or become inspired again. With that, we want to bring up the issue of balance in one’s life. We often speak about the issue of a work/life balance as a photographer, but there is an even more delicate balance that needs to be maintained: your creative/corporate balance.
The work that is done for clients that pays needs to be exercised and displayed because that’s what the clients want. That type of work will only bring in more money for you–and you need that. But the other type of work will keep you ahead of the game and keep your creative eye fresh with new ideas.
This balance is even tougher to maintain, but it takes practice and discipline.
And like the muscles that we’re talking about that are getting worked in the gym, give your photography muscles a break and don’t force them to do something often. Instead, let the creativity come to you naturally.