A few days ago I asked a question in the Live Snap Love Facebook group about what was the number one thing that was holding you back from learning photography. Several of the answers that came up said an issue was they simply did not have enough time.
Now, that is something I can totally relate to!
Time is definitely my most precious commodity these days, so I have to try to work smarter in the hours that I've got. I can't add any more hours into the day (although that would be nice!) - all I can do is make sure that I am being productive in the hours that I do have, and that I using the time to get the things that matter most done.
That's what I am going to at least attempt to help you with today, by showing you some ways you can make time for learning photography, and how to work smarter with the limited time that you do have.
Before we get started, I recommend that you download my photography workbook. It's going to help you identify what you need to work on next, then help you create the time to do it. Plus, it's free 😀
Let's do this!
Step One: Map out what you need to learn next
The very first thing you need to do is work out where you are now, and then work out what you need to learn next. It's all very well saying that you need to make time to learn photography, but what is the goal of the practice session? How is it going to take you one step nearer to making good photographs?
So that you are not wasting time simply "practicing" photography but not moving forward, I suggest that you spend a few minutes breaking down what you need to be working on next. In other words, create a PLAN for learning photography.
In the workbook I've provided for you, write down the three main things you need to work on. The reason we are sticking at three is simply to avoid overwhelm and make it easier to plan out.
So, for example, if I were a beginner, I may write down:
- I will learn and understand the exposure triangle
- I will start to understand and play with shutter speed
- I will start to understand and play with Aperture
If I were a bit more experienced but felt that my photos were a bit blah, I may write down:
- Work on strengthening composition
- Learn how to edit my photos
- Use more interesting light in my images.
The next thing you want to do is break that larger goal into smaller tasks. Breaking down larger goals into smaller bite sized pieces always make them seem more manageable, and also gives you a framework to work to.
So, once you have a broad outline of your three main things to work on, break it down even further, for example:
- Read about the exposure triangle
- Practice for 10 minutes watching how the numbers all change when I move one setting
- Read about Shutter Speed
- Practice on a slow shutter speed with kids in the garden
I'm can hear one or two of you thinking "But I don't know what to learn next!" (Yes, I can hear you 😀) If that was you, check out my post which gives you a guide to your photography learning path which will give you an idea of where you are now and what you should be working on next.
Once you have a map drawn out of where you want to get to, and most importantly, the steps to take you there, the next thing to think about is WHEN you are going to do it. So....
Step Two: Add it Into Your Schedule
I hate to admit to being THIS organised, but I generally start each day with a plan of what I am going to do and accomplish that day. I have my full day mapped out in 30 minute sections, so I know what I can realistically fit in to my "working" day. Although I don't always stick to it 100%, I've found it's been helpful to have a guideline to work to, and also to see where my time sucks are.
I start by filling in the "immovable" stuff, like school drop off / pick up, or cooking dinner. Around that, I work in other stuff that needs to be completed that day - for me, that can be things like writing blog posts, or doing Facebook live streams, or doing my accounts, or taking books back to the library.
The trick here is to schedule in time for ONE of your bite sized tasks for learning photography. It doesn't have to be long - you can schedule in a full 30 minute chunk, or two 15 minute "slots". I find that although 15 minutes isn't long, it's enough time to read a blog post or watch a video. ( This is why most of the videos in my Auto to Awesome e-course are around 10 - 15 minutes long, so you can fit one in most days even if you don't get a lot of time)
Now, you definitely don't need to do this every day - every couple of days is fine, or even one day every weekend. I've created a planner for you in the workbook I created to help you with this - you can download it here:
Now, take one of the smaller bite sized tasks you created in step one, and schedule it into your day. I can tell you that whenever you schedule something in, you are far more likely to make sure that it happens. If you don't see "take photos with slow shutter speed" or "watch video lesson on Aperture Priority" on your calendar / to-do list, it probably won't get done.
If you really can't spare 30 minutes to devote to photography every couple of days, then think about ways you can incorporate it into a daily task. For example, things like walking the dog, or cooking dinner, or painting with the kids - can you make photography fit into these things? Maybe make your dog walking duties a time when you take your camera with you to practise - so that 30 minute dog walk is also your photography walk. Or when you are cooking dinner, pop up your iPad if you have one and watch a lesson when chopping carrots. (That's my personal favourite way to learn!) Or when your kids are painting, take photos of the activity and practise a certain skill or concept.
Step Three: Make Photography A Priority
If you find you are regularly not making time for photography, then take a moment to think about how valuable it is to you. I have heard it said many times, that when we say we don't have time for something, we are really saying that we don't value the activity. Now, I know that sounds harsh, and grossly unfair in many cases, but it is somewhat true.
I know that as a working parent, I have other things going on every single day that I NEED to do and can't be put off. But I also know that I make choices throughout that day about how I spend my time, and some of it could be used for photography. When I say I don't have time, I'm really saying that other items were more important to me.
When that happens (and it does, a LOT) then I try to think about my WHY for photography. For me, that's to capture the moments and days before they are gone forever. Picking up my photo books and bringing back memories can be enough for me to make photography a priority again - thinking about missing these moments and not having them to look back on gives me the impetus to get going again.
Alright then! I hope this post was helpful, or at the very least, gave you something to think about. I am right there with you thinking there is not enough hours in the day, and I really do know that finding time sounds a lot easier than it actually is. However, I believe there are some things you can do to help make learning photography something that is at least more likely to get done! Oh, and if you haven't downloaded the free workbook to help you, then I recommend clicking the button below to get it.