Focus Editor Philip discusses five good habits that all photographers should try to incorporate into their photography practice, no matter what type of work they do.
Like most photographers, my journey has been quite up and down at times, and I found that once I stopped doing certain things related to my image taking and started doing others, I became much happier as a photographer.
Below are some of the best practices (or habits) I’ve picked up over the years, which I would recommend you apply to your photography, too, especially if you’re losing your drive. Some of these I wish I had started sooner, and in all honesty, I still struggle with some of them (the second one in particular!).
But ultimately, I’ve found that they have made me much more productive and content all around. And it doesn’t matter what type of photography you do or how often you take images - you can apply these to all areas of photography.
1 Keep your kit in good order
For me, this one has been something I’ve neglected over the years and regret many times.
It can take just minutes after a photo shoot to ensure all of your kit is packed away appropriately, and it can mean the difference between a successful shoot and a costly catastrophe. Or when you’re back from your outing take a moment to wipe down and clean all of your lenses and filters and make sure all of your kit is in the places it should be - you’ll save yourself loads of time with this one in particular (the amount of time I’ve wasted searching for a piece of kit I’ve put in the wrong place).
2 Keep your post-production workflow up-to-date
This is one that I admittedly still struggle with. We all know how easy it is to get caught up in the cycle of shooting day-in and day-out, chasing the light. But, as much as this is good fun (and also pretty addictive), it’s very easy to end up with a massive backlog of images that need to be processed - if you’re not dedicating enough time to post-production. Having hundreds or even thousands of pictures lined up to be worked on can feel overwhelming and will soon take the joy out of your photography screen time. Post-production in photography should be fun and not a chore, especially when working your magic in Lightroom and Photoshop.
Each time you go out on a shoot, dedicate at least a small amount of time afterwards to post-production and getting organised. I’m not saying you must do everything immediately after the shoot. But, a good place to start is by highlighting the images you want to work on, and organising your files by deleting any duds and so on.
"Having hundreds or even thousands of pictures lined up to be worked on can feel overwhelming and will soon take the joy out of your photography screen time."
3 Backup your work
Super important this one. At some point in every photographer's journey, they’ll encounter a hard drive failure or loss of image files (I certainly have), and the impact can be devastating. Mitigate this by getting into the habit of backing up your photos as regularly as you possibly can, preferably to a few places.
You can read more on how to best store your image files with our dedicated guide.
4 Regularly ask for feedback
Your photography journey is very personal, and often involves a lot of solo time and contemplation. Therefore, it’s not uncommon to get wrapped up in your thoughts on whether an image, concept, or series is working. From experience, I’ve learned that this constant rumination over your photography can ultimately bring you down.
Get out of this cycle by regularly asking for feedback on your images, whether from your partner, friends, or somewhere more formal, like a photography club or class. It can be refreshing and rewarding to hear what others think about your photos and what you’re trying to achieve. Any feedback is good, be it positive, negative or neutral. Not only will it keep you on the right track, but it’ll also keep you motivated and accountable for your photography.
"Any feedback is good... Not only will it keep you on the right track, but it’ll also keep you motivated and accountable for your photography."
5 Give yourself breaks from photography
As much as there’s a lot of enjoyment and fulfilment to be gained from constantly pushing yourself with your photography, it can also work the other way.
In the past, I’d get a project in my mind, and I would pursue it to the point where I'd not think about anything else, and ultimately lose all perspective on what I was doing in the first place. Or I’d get lost in an editing cycle of a single image, going over it for days and days on end (the crop tool in particular) and forget about the look I initially had in mind. In the end, I was mentally drained and started to find myself resenting photography altogether.
I got out of this negative cycle by taking breaks from photography. Sometimes it was just days; other times, it was years. Getting caught up in your photography in a way that becomes a downward spiral, especially when you’re so passionate about it, is relatively easy to do. But by taking breaks - either from a project or photography altogether - can be hugely beneficial. By having time away, you’re removing the pressure off yourself to be that perfect photographer (and nobody will ever be perfect), and you’ll also remember what you were trying to achieve from your photography journey in the first place.