Look Beyond Photography: Episode 31 “Idle Hands”

Winter can bring about a slow season for many photographers, but beware of what all this free time can bring.

There are mixed emotions for a lot of us when winter rolls in.  On one hand, many of us have been busy playing catch up from fall (our craziest time of the year)…so we look forward to things slowing down a bit and having a chance to breathe and just relax.  On the other hand however, if we’re not financially prepared to take a hit on the drop in sessions this time of year, it can be quite worrisome.  There are various approaches in how to handle the winter lag, and more seasoned photographers have plotted and planned to create systems that work well for them.  But for those that do not have the experience or knowledge to yet prepare for this season, you may find yourself with loads of free time and no idea how to fill it.

The worst thing you could do with all of this spare time is “nothing”.  When you have “nothing” to do, only bad things happen.  When your mind is not focused on a task or a goal, it’s open to be influenced by doubt, fear, and worry.  These emotions are all counterproductive to our goals and aspirations.  The easiest way to feel trapped and helpless is to simply give yourself time to focus on all the things you’ve done “wrong” and you’ll begin to envision yourself in a dark tunnel with no light at the end.  It’s just human nature.  Sometimes it seems like the path of least resistance is to move towards depression, but the problem is that moving out of depression is met with quite a bit of resistance.  We have to keep our mind occupied on a positive, productive agenda in order to avoid this pitfall.

Another trouble area we get ourselves into when we have nothing to do is that we can start being active in the wrong things (things that do not support our main goals).  In order to fill our time, it’s easy to look for alternate options to keep us entertained.  Maybe it’s a game that we’ve wanted to spend more time playing, or a craft or hobby to fill up the space…and those aren’t bad things (in fact they can sometimes be a welcome distraction)…but, if we replace our working time with time for entertainment, it will only serve to move focus away from our photographic and career related goals.  This is why so many photographers feel like they’ve “lost their rhythm” by the time spring rolls around.  They’ve gotten out of the photographic mindset and have to essentially “reboot” to get up and running again.  This takes additional time and energy which can lead to more areas of frustration!

Joshua Hanna Photography

Personal Project RAW Files – Joshua Hanna Photography

So how should we go about facing the winter slump?  Look for positive ways to reinforce your goals.  Take advantage of this downtime to pursue areas that you didn’t have time for the rest of the year.  For instance, maybe there are some educational resources you’ve been meaning to catch up on.  This could be YouTube videos or instruction from other experienced photographers.  It’s a great time to attend a conference or training event (you know, like SYNC!)  This is also a great time to reach out to other photographers that you may admire to seek some advice or just make a peer connection (grab lunch with a colleague, etc since this is likely a slower time of year for them as well).  Winter is also a great time for personal projects.  Taking time to improve your lighting, shooting, or photoshop skills…or just to shoot subject matter that you’ve been dying to work on.  You could work on your website that’s been needing some TLC.  Most importantly, it’s the perfect time to reflect on your goals and vision for your future.  Are you aligning your goals with where God would want you to be?  Are there family goals that you can re-evaluate to be more productive (and do your career goals support the family goals)?  Faith, family, photography…it’s a great time to make sure our priorities are in order.

Just remember that if you’re finding yourself slowing down, make a conscience effort to stay focused on positive ways to move forward.  There’s plenty of ways to keep momentum going even in the slow season!

PS.  If you’ve read this far, then I’d also like to extend a 15% discount off of any Photoshop or Photography workshop until 3/1/18…just in case I can help keep you moving in a positive direction this winter!  Simply mention the “Idle Hands” post.  For more information, see the info flyers here.