Photography burnout is not uncommon, but it can be detrimental to your photography career if left unattended. If you think that you’re suffering from photography burnout, you’re in the right place. Here, we’ll discuss what photography burnout is and offer a proactive approach to overcoming it.
Is Photography Burnout a Real Thing?
Yes, photography burnout is real, as is burnout in general. It’s important to note that photography burnout, or occupational burnout, as it’s generally known, isn’t a medical condition in itself. According to the Mayo Clinic, experts believe that burnout is a symptom of other clinical conditions, like depression.
For this reason, we’re going to talk about photography burnout as a very general state of mind and a nonmedical condition that could be addressed by changing routines and trying new things. If you’re feeling very low about aspects of your life and photography is just another item on the list, it would be best to consult with your doctor for answers.
We’ll look at the issue from two different angles; that of a serious hobbyist as well as from a working photographer’s perspective. You’ll probably fit into one of these two camps, and for the most part, we’ll address them equally and together within the realm of photography burnout. Check out these apps to help manage burnout.
What Exactly Is Photography Burnout?
Photography burnout is a state of mental and emotional distress caused by one or more long-term adverse working conditions. Similar to the corresponding symptoms of occupational burnout, you may be feeling some of the following:
- Tired of producing the same work, or feeling like nothing you create is good enough anymore.
- You feel sluggish about starting work, and it takes a lot more time to do routine tasks.
- The joy of photography is gone completely. You think about quitting it altogether.
- Procrastination may have crept into your life, especially if you’re a working photographer.
- Your sleep is disrupted by constant negative thoughts about your photography.
- As coping mechanisms, unhealthy habits may have developed regarding the abuse of food, alcohol, or drugs.
- It feels like it’s the end of your entire creative world.
We’d like to point out that photography burnout is quite different from a creative rut, which often occurs due to a photographer getting comfortable shooting a certain way or producing the same kind of work over long periods. We talk about photography ruts and how to get out of them.
Let’s look at some ways to deal with photography burnout.
1. Don’t Take a Break, Change Genres
It’s a common suggestion to simply take a break from the thing that you love most. And that could be worth trying. But if you want to be more proactive instead of waiting for a solution to materialize for your photography burnout, try changing up the photographic genre you’re currently working in.
If you’re a landscape photographer, try your lens at portraiture. If you photograph fashion, try street photography. The point is to shake up your photographic world.
You may not particularly care for another genre of photography, but you may surprise yourself. At the very least, you may gain insight into how to kick your bout of photography burnout, and you may even be able to reignite your passion for your old genre. Check out these simple, beginner-friendly photography genres.
2. Experiment With New Gear
You may need some different gear for your new genre. Professionals and serious hobbyists will own all the cameras, lenses, and accessories that are genre-specific for their photography needs.
We don’t recommend buying new gear in this case, but simply borrowing it from a fellow photographer or perhaps renting it. Sometimes a new camera or lens will invoke new possibilities for personal or professional work.
If purchasing new gear for your adopted genre is a viable option, we talk about why you should never buy a new DSLR camera and buy a used one instead.
3. Try a Photography Workshop or Join a Club
Photography workshops and clubs are a great way to connect with the photography community in your area. If you are embarking on a new photography genre to explore, the expertise and camaraderie of photographers who specialize in this genre could prove invaluable.
You may also discover that the friends you make along the way may be familiar with the same photography burnout issues that you’re facing. Talking about these problems and seeking advice is never a bad thing.
For photography workshops and clubs in your area, try a Google search to see what comes up. You may also be able to find photographers in your region who can help you with your skills. This leads us to our next suggestion.
4. Go on a Photo Walk With a Photography Expert of Another Genre
You’ll very likely find one or more photographers in your area through a Google search or from social media apps like Instagram. Reach out and contact them. Many of them are active in their communities and conduct regular photo walks.
We discuss the reasons why it’s still worth it for photographers to use Instagram. One of those reasons is that there’s still a very large, global photography community that uses the app. And it’s a great resource to help find inspiration from the work of other photographers.
Organize a photo walk with someone who’s experienced in your new genre. It might give you a fresh perspective and a boost of motivation.
5. Give It a Year
Photography burnout won’t be experienced in the same way by every photographer because of the very personal and specific reasons for the cause of the condition. That’s why treating photography burnout as a short-term obstacle may not be realistic for some photographers.
If you go in with the mindset that treating your photography burnout will require time and patience, you’ll more likely be able to address the issues behind the condition. That’s why preparing for a year’s worth of experimenting with another genre may prove beneficial.
One of the best ways to track your progress would be to keep an ongoing journal of your struggles and victories along the way. We recommend these journaling apps to track the state of your mental health.
Photography Burnout Is Beatable
If you’re suffering from photography burnout, try another photography genre to help kickstart a new beginning. There’s more than one way to go about it, but if you want to take a proactive approach and continue to grow as a photographer in both knowledge and experience, a new genre might just be the answer to ending your photography burnout.
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