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The real consequences of taking a break from photography

The post The Real Consequences of Taking a Break from Photography first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by John McIntire.

Have you ever had enough of your photography? Disillusioned? Frustrated? Uninspired? Burned out? If that's the case for you, you're not the only one in those feelings. Most of us feel this way in one way or another, often several times. Fortunately, good advice has always been available for when you feel that way.

Advice that encourages you to try out new techniques for a different perspective and a fresh perspective is a good example of general advice that can help you overcome frustration.

Sometimes doing something else, such as leaving the studio, can be enough to give you a new perspective on things.

This article discusses a certain common advice that is often given to photographers. You will probably have heard or read it to someone else, even if it has not been given to you. That advice is when you feel that way, take a break from photography. At first glance, this seems like a great idea and good advice. However, if you dig a little deeper and analyze the possible outcomes (as in this article), you should see that the consequences of following a photography break can be significant.

Where does this come from?

This topic is fairly personal. I followed this advice a few years ago after struggling with serious burnout. Because of this, the topics discussed in this article are based on some of the things I experienced after taking a break. That said, although this is quite personal, I try to keep that aspect out of this article as much as possible and to keep things analytical and minimize the anecdotes.

But still, you are a situation and experiences will not be the same as mine. I may have experienced these consequences, but that does not mean that you want that. If you are considering taking a break from your photography, you should carefully consider whether this applies to you.

There are benefits

Taking a break gave me the opportunity to spend time creating images that are not important to anyone but me.

As mentioned, the advice that photographers often receive is to take a break from photography. This does have a number of advantages (and I have experienced it).

Taking a step back allows you both space and time to judge things fairly and to discover exactly what causes the frustrations that led you to take a break in the first place. This is a huge advantage and if used properly, you can understand that and resolve the problem or eliminate what caused you frustration.

Some things that are easier to evaluate at a safe distance are: what you like and don't like, the direction in which you photograph, your work habits, and your personal values ​​and how these apply to your photography.

I often used a white background because I loved it. At one point I stopped loving and was bored, but only realized when I took a long step back.

That time can also give you the opportunity to sink in some information. If there is a concept or technique that you simply cannot turn around in your head, the active pursuit steps away, giving your brain the opportunity to work on the problem in the background.

The cons

Although the positive effects of a break may be clear, some of the potential negative consequences are less.

Habits and systems

As you develop as a photographer, your list of processes and systems will also help you achieve what you are doing. A post-processing workflow is just one example of something that can be disturbed by a long pause.

If you have been involved in photography for a long time, you have gradually built up a series of habits and systems that you go through every time you take photos. This can be your post-processing workflow, it can be the way you explore locations, or it can be the way you behave on social media.

The thing is, these habits and processes were built step by step. You didn't wake up once in a day and you have a complete post-processing workflow.

When you decide to take a break, you take a moment away from your habits and habits. If these were developed during years of practice and daily ritual, what happens when your break is over? Chances are that when you return, you can fight very well to go back to those complex habits. Instead of building things up gradually, you try to get back to a routine in one go. This can be extremely difficult in the best of times.

During my break I spent quite some time photographing landscapes for fun and as an excuse to be outside. While fun, landscape photography requires a completely different approach and a series of processes for portraits.

If you think about this, just in the context of social media, posting content every day (or at least regularly) can be an important job with a lot of work in every post. Stopping that routine and then trying to come back to it months later could be overwhelming and it would take a considerable effort to overcome such a challenge.

As soon as you add that to the possibility that once you get off social media, you will very well recognize how toxic it can be, making it all the more difficult to willingly step back into that arena.

Things change

Depending on how long your break lasts, things that you take for granted can change drastically. My break lasted a few years. At the time, Photoshop turned into something that was only slightly recognizable. Lightroom transformed into the goal for photographers, and Instagram went from iOS users only to take over the world.

You can probably see the disadvantages here. In this technological world, everything changes at a ridiculous pace. By taking a time out, you remove yourself from a position where you can adjust to these changes as they occur. When you decide to come back, you now have a huge amount of things that you need to learn or re-learn to put yourself at the same level as before.

People change

If you are a portrait photographer or another social photographer, this is probably the most relevant point for you.

Just like the tools of the trade change over time, just like your network. Once you are in the break, previous contacts or customers move on and look for another photographer. Models, make-up artists and other employees can go further or change the focus themselves.

Over time, your network of customers, employees and co-conspirators changes organically. However, if you have a break, you do not have as many options to add new people to your network.

This applies equally to social media and to real-life networking.

If you didn't have a break, this would still happen, but of course your network would still grow. However, if you are not there to grow that network, the gaps left by these people will be empty as soon as your break is over. If your break is extended in a few years, you can come back to discover that the network that you put a considerable amount of time and effort into building has been decimated.

Combining it again

All of these things in themselves may not seem insurmountable, but if you add them all together, they can accumulate into a huge challenge that will bring you back in time and effort.

Re-focusing on these things also means that once you have decided that you are ready to go back to photography, you have to spend a lot of time on things that are not photography.

For many people who are frustrated and disillusioned with their photography, it is often these additional administrative tasks that cause feelings of frustration and disappointment in the first place.

Weigh your choices

If you are in a position where you are considering taking a break, I understand that I empathize. Many photographers have been there before.

Before making a decision, please take the time to consider all the possible consequences of a break.

Again, my circumstances will be different from yours and your consequences may not look like mine, but there will be consequences that you may not be able to see. Please try to take them into account.

Have you taken a break from photography or considered? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

The post The Real Consequences of Taking a Break from Photography first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by John McIntire.

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