I want to share with you something that has been on my mind for a while: whether a photographer should take a photograph everyday, or only when he/she feels like it.
I know I often espouse the benefits of always having your camera with you and taking photos everyday. But what’s the point of forcing yourself to take photos if you don’t feel like it?
Although there are a lot of great photographers who make it a habit to shoot everyday, I have realized there are also many great photographers who don’t shoot everyday, nor do they carry a camera with them everywhere they go.
For example, Bruce Gilden doesn’t bring his camera with him wherever he goes. Rather, he only has it with him when he’s seriously working on his projects, and when he’s shooting he gives his 100% attention to shooting.
William Klein is another example: he hasn’t actually spent that much time in his life taking photos in the stress. For his seminal book: “Life is Good & Good for You in New York“, he only shot it for two weeks, but shot like a madman. His other books on Tokyo and Rome were also shot in similarly short time spans.
So bringing us back to the question: is it advantageous to shoot everyday, or only when you feel like it?
For me, I rarely have the inspiration to pick up the camera. This makes me feel unmotivated, and I become jaded and uninterested in life.
But the funny thing is when I pick up a camera, I suddenly start seeing interesting things. The camera is a tool that helps me see the world more clearly.
But if you genuinely don’t feel like shooting, don’t force yourself to shoot. You have enough stress in your life from your family, work, and other obligations. Why add to that stress if you’re not enjoying your photography?
Also if you don’t feel like bringing your camera with you everywhere you go, that’s fine too. Sometimes it is more important to enjoy an experience (watching fireworks, enjoying a nice dinner) rather than frantically trying to document everything. There is even a psychological study out there that shows if you take a photo of something, you’re actually less likely to remember it.
Ultimately follow your gut.
If you’re the type of photographer where you feel anxious if you don’t shoot everyday, always have your camera with you, and force yourself to be creative and see the world as interesting. Then your efforts will pay off.
However if you’re the type of photographer in which photography only brings you joy when you don’t force yourself, don’t feel like you need to shoot all the time. Only take photos when you feel inspired.
The secret to happiness in your photography? Remember the saying: “Know thyself.” Discover your style in photography by following what makes you feel energized, excited, and what helps you flourish.