Is It Time To Quit the Photography You Do?

Photography seems like a noble enough activity, but is it really the thing we should be spending all our time, money, and energy on? Here's how to work out if photography is what you should be doing with your life.

For many of us, the title of "photographer" is deeply rooted in our identity. The thought of leaving it all behind is unthinkable. Yet, maybe some of us would be happier if we didn't pick up a camera ever again. This week, photographer and educator Filippo Nenna talks about this very subject when he explores the notion of photography and separates the mechanical actions of picture-taking from the emotional feelings we get while making work.

The video starts with questioning if we would enjoy the things we do as a photographer, even if we didn't have a camera in front of us. Examples such as being in nature and not taking landscape pictures or meeting new people and not making portraits are used well to illustrate the point. This kind of framing helps us to unpack which components of an action we actually do and don't like in a way many of us have probably never thought about before.

For those who realize the mechanical act of photography is not what they enjoy most, Nenna suggests simplifying camera settings or shying away from photography how-to books as a way to avoid getting bogged down with the technical side of picture creation. This video may raise some difficult questions, but they are important ones for creatives to ask themselves from time to time. For some of us, the answer may be that photography itself isn't what we love doing most, and I'm here to tell you that is ok. Life is too short to be doing things we don't enjoy. By trying to drill down and identify what we like about something, we can hopefully try to get more of those positive aspects in and reduce the number of negative ones. For some, this may be a dramatic exit from photography, while for others, it may just mean a refocus. Either way, the change will hopefully result in people doing more of what they actually love to do, rather than the notion of what they think they are supposed to like.

Have you ever thought about if you actually enjoy photography? Would you still enjoy those activities even if you didn't have a camera with you? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 

Paul Parker's picture

Paul Parker is a commercial and fine art photographer. On the rare occasion he's not doing photography he loves being outdoors, people watching, and writing awkward "About Me" statements on websites...

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I have been living in the Sonoran Desert for almost 10 years now. I love photographing the desert landscape, but felt my photography was getting stale. A friend taught me to fly his DJI Phantom drone a few years ago, & while I enjoyed flying it, the (then) short battery life & expense kept me out of the hobby.

When I looked at DJI drones again in 2021, I saw that drones had dramatically gone down in price. I took chance & bought a DJI Mini 2. Luckily, nearby Tonto National Forest allowed drones & was in Class G (unrestricted) airspace.

Luckily, I've learned to fly without crashing (yet) & enjoy swooping around the desert at 20-30m altitude looking for subjects to photograph while avoiding random power lines & dealing with uneven terrain. I velcro'd-on a tiny rechargeable strobe to keep aggressive hawks & curious ravens away & I'm gold!

Oh my goodness you are so lucky! You had me at "Sonoran Desert"

I travel to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona each summer, and absolutely love it there! Already excited about June 2023! And if things go extra good for me I may even get to come in early March for Gila Monster photography!

The saguaros & ironwood trees bloom in May. Of course the outside temps can be between 110F-115F for days at a time that month.

I really enjoy the technical side of photography. I spend 2-3 hours every day, in all weathers, walking my dog and used to really enjoy taking pictures whilst doing so. The best tool I had for the job was my D850. Unfortunately I can no longer afford a camera and whilst I do take pics with my phone, the results are nowhere near as good or the process as satisfying.