Making The Time For Photography, Part II

My post on Making The Time For Photography really struck a chord with people. Apparently we all lead busy lives! (Yes, shocking indeed. :) I thought I'd follow it up with more thoughts about squeezing photography into daily life. 

When you take an honest look at your day, there are pockets of downtime. They're often small, and I bin them into short, medium and long gaps. Well, let's not say gaps. Let's say opportunities. Over time, whether we're conscious of it or not, we develop habits to fill these pauses in our day. Some of mine were pure idle thought, browsing the web, checking email (when I just checked in minutes before), and so on.

If you change these habits, your day starts to yield more time for photography. Here's some examples of where I find spare minutes during my day:

  • 5 - 15 min: waiting at school pickup, standing in lines (the bank, coffee shop, grocery store), the bathroom (yeah, the bathroom ... arguably the last bastion of uninterrupted "alone time" :)
  • 15 - 30 min: on the treadmill, the tail end of a lunch hour, in between back-to-back kids' activities
  • 30+ min: waiting at kids' activities, a commute, after hours

Let's talk about these 5 - 30 minute pockets that surface throughout the day. These are too short to start something big like shooting or processing, but long enough to squeeze in a photo-themed morsel or two. I orient these around my mobile phone. Whether I'm at my desk or not, my phone is always with me. Some ideas:

  • If you're a blogger, start a post. At least get the idea down. You may not finish the post, but I find starting is half the battle. For the record, this post took me about 10 of these little windows of time to polish off.
  • Look at great photos, with purpose. I touched on this in my last post. The key part of this is with purpose. When you see a photo you like, take a moment to ask yourself "Why do you like it?" Maybe it's the composition, the play of color, the subject, the angle, and so on. Whatever the reason, recognize it and internalize it. You'll surprise yourself - that knowledge will surface in the future when you're out shooting.

    Where to find great photos? Social media. My social media site of choice is G+, and I have a "Photography Following" circle with just my favorite photographers in it. You could also turn to 500px. Or any number of other sources.
  • Read a photo article. Articles can be read in a few minutes. I use Feedly to subscribe to various photo blogs and articles across the web. Whatever your reader of choice, subscribe to enough streams of information so that's there's always something new to read. 
  • Watch a photo video. YouTube is perfect for this. Videos will range from a few minutes to upwards of an hour. If you have a few minutes, watch a short video. If you have more time, take in a longer one (or a segment of a really long video). Here's some of the YouTube channels I subscribe to:
    • Nik Photography: All sorts of videos geared toward using the Nik suite.
    • onOne Software: All sorts of videos geared toward using the Perfect Photo suite.
    • AdoramaTV & B&H Photo: Two big photography stores that produce a lot of vids. Many tend to be more gear focused (hey ... they're stores), but other topics float through too.
    • Kelby Media Group: A wealth of info on a wide range of topics. Not a Photoshop user? Me neither. There's still plenty of good things such as The Grid and Photography Tips & Tricks.
    • Joe McNally: It's Joe McNally ... need I say more?
    • Stuck In Customs & Trey Ratcliff: Trey's channel is an interesting mix of photo-related material and other things. Sometimes the unexpected diversion from photography is a welcome surprise.

For articles and videos, it's OK not to read/watch everything. Not every topic is interesting to every person. Even if I were interested in every topic of every video in my queue (which I'm not), it's simply not possible with my time constraints. But, with a healthy set of subscriptions, when I do have time to watch a video, I'm bound to find something I'm interested in.

When you have 30+ minutes of time, that's the time to either pop out for an impromptu shoot or push your photos through your workflow. In my prior post, I talked about what I do usually after hours - process photos. During the day, I'll step outside and shoot the sky or textures on the ground or on walls. Again, I'll use my mobile for this. When I post-process, I'll mask in skies and use textures. When I see an interesting sky or a cool texture, I'll grab a shot.

If you commute to work, that's another chunk of 30+ minutes. I actually telecommute most days. But there are times I do drive to my main office. If you drive, turn off the radio and try a photo podcast like This Week in Photo (TWiP). If you take a bus, subway or train to work, you can also crack out the laptop and work some photos.

So ... even when I'm not shooting or processing my own photos, I can carve out 30 minutes somewhere every day to scratch that photography itch. What about you? What other tips or tricks do you have? Please share!