Time is most definitely a precious commodity and is something that most of us can find scarce. If we are not seasoned pro photographers, and most of us probably aren't, it can be very difficult to find the time to pursue photography meaningfully. After juggling the demands of work, home, family and possibly other extracurricular life activities it might even seem impossible. However, with a little thought, planning and ingenuity it is definitely possible to make time for photography.
Tick tock, goes the clock by Clément G, on Flickr
Take a Look at How You Spend Your Time
First and foremost, taking a personal inventory of how you spend your time will identify problem areas that can be modified to free some of it up. Many of us have some serious time wasting habits that we may not even be conscious of.
For example, if you add up the amount of time spent on social sites such as Facebook or Twitter at the end of the day, you might be surprised at the huge time-suck these sites really are. Other unnecessary activities like watching TV can be huge time-wasters as well.
FACEBOOK LIKE by owenwbrown, on Flickr
Above and beyond time at our jobs, and time wasted on TV and Facebook, if you have children you know how incredibly time consuming they can be. While we really can't just decide to stop supervising and taking care of our kids, it is often possible to involve them in photographic pursuits. If you're on a tight budget, perhaps you can simply pile them in your car along with your camera equipment, and take them on a scenic drive to the park. Take your time and stop to take photos of interesting subjects along the way.
Always Keep Your Camera With You
As photographers, we can all relate to the disappointing feeling of losing an opportunity for a great shot. Great moments and scenes can be so fleeting. Sometimes the quality of the light is gorgeous and just right or a personal moment that will never again return is unfolding before you. If you always have your camera with you your chances of capturing these moments in time will be greatly enhanced.
For practicality's sake, carrying around a collection of lenses and other external camera gear might prove to be cumbersome. Perhaps carrying just your DSLR equipped with a zoom lens in a small camera bag will suffice for day to day purposes. You can always pack all of your gear for more formal photographic adventures. Also, you can keep your tripod and other equipment like a reflector in your car at all times.
Serious Photographer by garryknight, on Flickr
Create a Photography Schedule
If you have specific photography goals in mind, or even if you would like to form them, creating a photography schedule for yourself will be invaluable. For instance, you could dedicate a calendar to this purpose and pick a few days per week before or after work for shooting certain things. Consider these time slots actual appointments that you must keep for yourself. You can always shoot for longer periods of time on your days off, but at least you will be developing the habit of practicing your photography often.
Should You Lower Your Expectations?
Most of us fantasize about photographing exotic and distant locations or imagine what it would be like to devote ourselves completely to our photography. The reality is that these things just aren't possible for most of us the vast majority of the time. Realistically, we have limited amounts of money and time and need to spend both in ways that we would rather not deal with sometimes.
However, this doesn't mean that we have to dash our hopes and dreams and give up completely. Despite feelings of discouragement that we all face from time to time, no matter what our circumstances in life, we can rise above it all and accomplish our goals. This might mean simply accepting only having small windows of time. It also might mean learning to see what is interesting to photograph in your more immediate environment. If you get into the mindset of “framing” the world you see as you go about normal day-to-day activities, it can be amazing what you find to photograph.
Looking Out Over the Fog by Vincent_AF, on Flickr
Also, you might consider shooting in JPEG if it's not completely neccessary to have the extra control that shooting in RAW provides. Some photographers will balk at this idea, but the post-processing time involved when it comes to working with RAW files can be a problem when swamped for time.
Quit Making Excuses
The glass half empty mindset is a big problem for a lot of us and will surely sabotage your photography goals. It can be hard to see past “the crappy light today” or the fact that you don't have the “perfect” lens for what you want to accomplish. The truth is, a good photographer can take amazing photos in low-light with only a camera-phone or even a crude pinhole camera if need be. Using less than ideal light or other unfavorable conditions to your creative advantage can be a fun challenge that will surely improve your skills as a photographer.
Whatever the challenge may be when it comes to finding time for photography, using the tips in this article will get you started on the road to taking more photos.
Inside the Dolls House by hartman045, on Flickr