I have been meaning to write this article for a while, but I have kept putting it off, I have been procrastinating. Perhaps like me, you do the same with your photography. You wake up early on what looks like it’s going to be a glorious morning for photography, look at your watch and think, “I think the weather will be similar tomorrow” then slip back into a nice deep sleep. Perhaps you are about to take a day trip and think, I won’t take the camera today, its just too heavy, I will take it another day. There are many examples of procrastination both in actual picture taking and post production. Today we are going to look at a few ways of overcoming procrastination.
Avoid The Big Ideas: We all have them, the grandiose idea for a photographic shoot. Meticulous plans for 18 hours of photography covering a huge range of subjects sound great in theory but as you mull it over your morning coffee, you start to think, I cannot do all of this today, so I will start tomorrow.
Break your big idea down into smaller manageable sections. For example, when I am shooting a city, rather than planning to shoot all day, I will plan to shoot a small specific area for two or three hours then take a long break. If the forecast is good, I will try to do two of these smaller shoots in a day. By making the task in hand manageable, you are much more likely to get it done
Watch the Weather: For non professional photographers, time is often limited and the weather may not always play ball. If you are planning an outdoor shoot watch the forecast from 3 or so days in advance. If it’s looking like the weather is not going to allow you to achieve the result you were looking for, start to make back up plans. That might be shooting the same location but in a gritty black and white style or it might be abandoning the shoot altogether and setting a post production task instead.
Having a back up plan not only gives you options, it reduces your excuses for procrastination.
Set Reminders not Alarms: Virtually all of us have a smartphone these days. Most of us use them as alarms to wake us up. Rather than use a standard alarm, use something like Reminders on Apple IOS with an alarm not only to wake you up but also to nudge you to get out and shoot. In Reminders you can, for example write, Get up and Shoot Tower Bridge, set it as a reminder with alert and set your alarm to the same time as the alert. Now when the alarm goes off at 5.30 in the morning, you will see exactly why you have been woken at that unearthly hour.
Finish What you Started: Photography is not just about the shooting but also the post production. Many of us let the latter slip in preference to the former and end up with mountains of potentially great photos that we forget about. When planning your photographic schedule, plan in time to do the post production, preferably close to the time that you do the shoots. This will keep the images fresh in your mind and easier to work on. You will also find that the satisfaction of finally completing a shoot from planning to post production will spur you on to be more productive on your next one.
Make Post Manageable: Post production is often one of the biggest excuses we use not to shoot. It goes like this, “I would love to go and shoot today but I still have so many images to work on” So work on them. Post production can be an easy, relaxing thing to do, but like with shooting, keep it manageable. Don’t set aside Saturday to edit and caption 2000 images because it won’t happen, however, if you set a simple target of working on 25-50 images in a morning you are much more likely to get it done. Spend some time creating a standard workflow, grab a nice coffee, put on a little mood music and those 50 images will be done in a stroke. Whats more you may well find you have enjoyed it so much that whenever you are at your computer you may well find yourself, “doing another 10”. In a few weeks your post production mountain will become little more than a molehill.
Take a Time Out: Lastly, and perhaps controversially, we would say take a deliberate break. For the majority, photography is a passion not a profession. As with any passion your love for it can wane. Even if you feel you are still enjoying photography, taking a break for a few weeks can rekindle your creativity, giving you fresh ideas for shoots.
Procrastination is easy, breaking it can be hard. By using one, some or all of the tips above you might just find yourself out shooting rather than ruing a lost opportunity.