Prioritize Photography

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Me on the East Verde River Trail in Payson, Arizona.

I work about sixty hours a week (between my “day” job and my freelance work). My schoolwork (yes, back to school I go!) occupies about 10 hours a week. I absolutely INSIST on at least 8 hours of sleep every night, so that’s 56 hours. Throw in another three hours a day for things like, OH, having a conversation with my husband, petting my dog, doing the dishes, and the like, and that’s 21 more hours.

There are only 168 hours in a week. I just accounted for 147 of them. (And I just made myself tired!)

Life is all about prioritizing the things that are the most important to us. You would think, looking at that schedule up there, that work is the most important thing in my life. But it isn’t. It isn’t even second, or third, or fifth. Work is just the necessary means I have to support my family. Some of the work I really enjoy, some of it I find tedious. I’m ever so slowly moving in a direction that will allow my freelance work to be my only work, which will exponentially increase the availability and quality of my free time. Until then I have to very carefully manage my life in order to keep on top of everything.

A windmill near Doll Baby Farm in Payson, Arizona.

I keep reminding myself, “It’s good to have goals.”

So, how do I prioritize my photography – my creativity – into such a busy life? I MAKE IT HAPPEN. I’ve arranged my schedule in such a way that I have all day every Saturday to completely turn off my working brain, and switch on my creative brain. Unless I absolutely make time for photography and fun, I’ve discovered that I’ll work all the time. For the first few minutes when I wake up on Saturday I might stress about the mountain of tasks I know are awaiting me, but soon I’m able to luxuriate in a day spent making my spirit happy. Usually my husband and I take a day trip in our Jeep, and explore the many off-road trails that Arizona has to offer. That has the added benefit of getting me out of the house, away from the computer, and beyond the temptation to get some work done. Plus I end up in some pretty stunning places, which is a great source of photographic inspiration.

I had no idea how refreshing it is, how energizing it is for the days ahead, to purposefully make time every week for play.

Our picnic spot along the East Verde River Trail in Payson, Arizona.

Now that I have this time carved out for photography, I know that I have VERY little time to be messing around in post-processing. As a result, I actually feel like my photography is getting better. I’m more discerning when I take a picture. I take more time to get it right in the camera, so I’ll have to spend less time in Lightroom or Photoshop. I’m better at narrowing down my “best” photos – the ones I want to spend time on and share with my friends – instead of having to touch every single image.

In between shots I breathe deep and just enjoy the moment.

My point is, you have to make time for the things you love. If photography is your passion but there’s dust on your camera, try carving out just an hour or two per week at first. Remind yourself what it feels like to have that camera in your hand, and of the satisfaction you feel when you exercise your skills and knowledge to produce a beautiful photograph. Start carrying your camera around with you wherever you go, and see how that spurs your motivation and inspiration. Get out of the house, away from your day-in-day-out environment, and for heaven’s sake UNPLUG for a while!

You’ll find yourself a lot happier, and living a life that is much more balanced, when you make time to pursue your passion.

How do you prioritize photography in your life? What kind of schedule-juggling do you find necessary in order to make time for play? How has your life been enriched as a result? We’d love to hear about it in the comments or on our Facebook Page!

Photos copyright Tiffany Joyce – (Top) Me on the East Verde River Trail in Payson, Arizona. Shot was taken by my husband. (Middle) A windmill near the fascinatingly-named “Doll Baby Ranch” in Payson, Arizona. (Bottom) Our picnic spot along the East Verde River Trail in Payson, Arizona. Click on each photo to see a larger version.

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  • Sherri V.A.

    Tiffany — love your site!  I intend to read some of these articles.  I’m trying to “step up” my skill level.   Thanks!  

  • Oshay

    Keep up the good work. Most people make excuses instead of prioritizing time. I’ve recently started my own blog to help beginner digital photographers. 
    http://digitalphotography101.blogspot.co.nz

  • http://ourshuttersounds.wordpress.com AR Cherian

    Thanks for this wonderful article Tiffany. I just got a new job after being without one for a year and a half and it’s so hard to prioritize photography now with the job commitments and family commitments. Even when I wasn’t working, I found that I had to make time for photography. It’s a discipline.  Like you said, the key is to be disciplined and force yourself to take that short trip with camera in hand as much as possible!

  • http://www.photographer-detroit.net/ crystal

    Interesting article…how well you have managed you work and your passion. Its very difficult to find time for yourself and your family. By the way photographs are very nice.

  • http://www.liveloveshare.com.au/ photography melbourne

    It is so amazing to know people who have a work-life balance.  It is true that when you have this so-called balance, you get to be more productive.  Photography is one of the nicest ways to unwind and relive stress.

  • http://www.photographyfreelancejobs.com/ Photography Freelance Jobs

    I adore you as being a well organize person. Your activities are well plan that made me realize to make every single minute in our lives counted.