The color in this photo always makes me happy...  for this shot, that's enough.

The color in this photo always makes me happy… for this shot, that’s enough.

For most of us, we got into photography because it was fun.  Sure the prospect of making a living off something we enjoyed was exciting; it was a dream job. But then reality set in… what was once fun increasingly became work.

I liken the entire dynamic to that of a marriage.  I started dating my wife almost 15 years ago. What started as young romance, turned into newlywed bliss.  Add in two jobs, two kids, and other pressures and its easy to find yourself sleeping next to a stranger.

You need to remember what makes you happy.

You need to remember what makes you happy.

What we figured out a few years back is that we were better parents the more we were in love with each other.  Hence our standing tradition of having our own date night at least every two weeks.  We step away from all the parts of the relationship that are work and instead work on our relationship. We’re happy, we’re in sync, and we’re a better family.

What’s the lesson here? Are you married to your job or do you love your job?  By taking the time to make photography fun again and giving you a chance to grow and explore that relationship, you will be far better off.

Take on some personal projects.  Do something because you want to and not because you have to.

For me, that’s time-lapse photography.  Capturing scenic views and letting the passage of time get recorded.

  • I walk out with two camera bodies and two tripods.
  • The process of finding the shot (which often involves the quiet of a sunrise or sunset) relaxes me.
  • I find a good view and set the cameras up.
  • After carefully composing both shots, I meditate.  If I’m not feeling introspective, then I read comic books on my iPad.  Both help me relax.
  • I then get some fun time in Adobe Camera raw and After Effects to make beautiful images that others enjoy.

I find the end result and the creative process beautiful and rewarding.  Photography is fun… the images I’m creating cause a reaction.  I am proud of the work, but the only person I need to make happy is me.

Just as my family is stronger because my wife and I love each other… so is my work.  I enjoy what I do and on those days when there’s a gap in work it doesn’t seem so depressing and worrisome.  Even if I’m busy and I’m on the road for clients, I still find myself getting up early to catch the sunrise.  Worst case scenario… I can even just set the camera on a timer to shoot out my hotel window.

But I’m having fun and making time for me… and my client work is all the better for it.

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About Richard Harrington

Richard Harrington is the founder of RHED Pixel, a visual communications company based in Washington, D.C. He is the Publisher of Photofocus and Creative Cloud User as well as an author on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.

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