Over the years of being a hobbyist photographer, I brought my camera everywhere with me, especially on vacation. Getting new images was exciting, and I was always wanting to build my stock library. As I made the leap to being a freelance photographer and focusing all of my efforts on my business, a funny thing happened: I stopped taking photos while on vacation.

Now, when I say the word vacation, I don’t mean new, exotic places around the globe. I’m referring to the places closer to home — camping trips, family gatherings, annual stays in nearby towns, etc. More and more I found myself packing all of my photo gear and then not touching it while I was on days off.

Feeling guilty

Each time this happened, I felt guilty, like I was missing an opportunity. I felt like I should be taking photos, and I was missing out if I didn’t. But the intrinsic drive to do it just wasn’t there.  It made me feel like maybe I was losing my passion to be a photographer because that instinct to shoot everything, all the time, was gone.

This past weekend I went to a new-to-me marina and resort for the weekend with my sister and her family. I packed my photo gear, confident that I would be taking fresh images for new content and stock. But again, my camera didn’t leave my bag. I was busy playing with my nephew, visiting friends and actually — gasp — relaxing.

The realization

On the final night of the trip as we were going to bed I lamented about my “laziness” for not taking any photos during the trip. My sister turned to me and said “You’re on vacation, you don’t need to work if you don’t feel like it.”

It was such a simple statement. But it hit home for me and was exactly what I needed to hear. 

If you’ve ever run your own business you know that when you’re at home you always feel like you can be working. On top of actually shooting, there’s endless tasks of admin work, social media posting, marketing, continued learning … the list goes on. Now that photography is my full-time job, I need to realize that taking a break from it is OK! 

A campfire in front of a small beach hut under the night sky on Vancouver Island, BC.

Moving forward

Will I continue to bring my gear with me to most places? Yes, of course! But I will also allow myself to NOT use it if the inspiration doesn’t strike. I don’t need to feel guilty if I don’t come home with an Instagram worthy image every time I take a couple of days off. I think that taking the pressure off of myself for my next trip will actually help inspire me more!

Maybe this is a simple concept, but it’s one that took me almost a year (and the help of my sister stating the obvious) to realize. So, should the time ever come that you’re feeling guilty for not getting your camera out, go easy on yourself. Let yourself relax, take guilt-free pictures with your phone and know that you can always grab your gear should inspiration strike.