Why Photography should be Enjoyed as a Hobby


There is always this myth that your hobby should pay for itself either as a form of investment. People who collect stamps as a hobby a long time ago saw the value in that which they collected. While people who painted saw value in their art but that's not always the case of course with digital photography.

Some of you enjoy a hobby for the sheer pleasure it bring to you and if photography is on that list, it should remain that way. 

In the age of the Internet and social media, it has become apparent that images make for a good story of your passage through the many places that life takes you. I have a friend named Peter who loves food, and he take pictures of them. It has never occurred to him to make that a paying hobby and he never sells what he shoots for stock image sale. 

I have this other guy named Alan who loves collecting old film cameras and using them Although I have never seen a single picture that he has taken nor is he one of those who constantly share what he has shot, nonetheless his hobby of shooting with film cameras has given him immense enjoyment. He's also built up an envious collection of rare cameras which will be worth a good chump of change in years to come. 

One of the beauties of a hobby is that it has to be enjoyed, and for me Photography has always been a solitary enjoyment exercise. You don't need a shooting buddy or a photo assistant to carry your loaded cameras around. 

Start with a Genre you Love

When you start shooting, it has to be on subjects you love. Some love food and they shoot food. Others have phases in their lives, which I am guilty of, and I have drifted from shooting night scenes to macros of bugs and horticulture. Once you discover a challenge worth your time, you pursue it. 

Over the years, I have gone from shooting garden variety macros, to motorsports and cars, dabbled in studio photography of models to see what it was like and even gone on to shoot street photos. I was even told that shooting cars were the most difficult as I couldn't agree more till digital photography arrived and made that relatively easy. 

I eventually settled on street photography, which by definition is the worst paying form of photography today but I still love it. I have sold two street photos to date, both of which were snapped up by a hotel group but these were royalty free. 

Street is cool. I love capturing the daily life of people in urban environments but no one will hire a street photographer for a wedding shoot, or for that matter going Pro when you only have street cred on your name card. Street photography hasn't been a worthwhile vocation for a very long time. 

Why I enjoy Street Photography

When you shoot, you're a hunter. The only difference is that you hunt for pictures to keep in your camera. I had a lot of fun doing this during the 90s when I was in Hanoi, Vietnam. Three of us were out in the streets shooting what was a Soviet era of Vietnam that is very different from what you see today. 

You bagged nice little memories from the trip on the things you see around you but the truth is none of the pictures were sold. I remember passing some of the slides to an image bank and for years, they held it. None were sold. 

The secret why they were not sold is because no one would buy them. You see, photos only sell if they represent a commercial product. Even editorial photos hardly sell these days except maybe for royalty free use. 

Today, street photography pictures are still not hot sellers. It never could earn you a pretty penny unless you framed it up as an abstract piece and sold it at a souvenir store. That's quite an investment if you asked me but the whole point here is street photography isn't about making money. 

For me, it has always been about collecting memories of places that I have been. 

Keeping your Hobby Manageable

Yes, photography can get out of hand. You start to want things, like maybe a 300mm lens and accessories. Things will start to get expensive as you start collecting lenses so don't get into the habit of buying things that you regret later. 

For me, I never did have that regret even though that spiffy 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is hardly used by me, it served its purpose from another time when I shot motorsports. I did point this lens on a monkey and some local wild life but none of these pictures sold anymore than the ones I put up on numerous image banks. 

Keeping your photography simple and affordable is the key to enjoying it. There is no reason to be a gear head because at the end of the day, you'd be judged on what you shot....and not what you shoot with. 

If there was a place you could rent a lens or borrow one, so much the better. You have to develop your style of shooting and often, you only end up with carrying 2 lenses at most. Going crazy with a long list of prime lenses isn't going to make you a better photographer. It is at this point that we photos call these folks 'gear heads'. 

Being a 'gear head' isn't going to make you a better photography by any count. You may fuss over the different apertures and sensors on each camera but you come out shooting blanks as none of the pictures are any good. 

People who enjoy pictures and photography can tell if you are a bad photographer by looking at your images. It is something that photogs know and they won't tell you because they don't know you well enough to tell you in your face. Why bother?

Think in Pictures

I find that visualisation helps you see things better when it comes to framing a subject. 
This is an exercise in creativity as you visually place the subject in the window of your mind and see how it would look before taking that shot. 

Some like to squeeze a few shots in every angle imaginable and hope to get lucky with one. That's not helping you train your mind. As a hobby, you need to let that spark in your mind do its magic. Once that comes naturally, you're good to go.