It’s likely you’ve managed to gradually put together a list of photography related items throughout the year with ambitions to be surprised with receiving a few of them for the holidays.
I do it every year, although the chances of my wife surprising me with any of it is small because it’s possible I’ve purchased it way before she’s considered entering a mall or navigating Amazon.
There’s a tradition during the holidays for us where Vanessa and I crumple up 5 piece of paper each, dumped them into our own red holiday stocking and randomly pick out 3 papers from each others bag. Written on them are gifts that we would love to receive from one another but the spin is that out of the 5 that we wrote down, we’re unaware of which one we would get. The problem this year is that I actually don’t want anything.
Ever since I accepted photography as something that represents more than a typical hobby, I’ve managed to amass a respectable collection of gear on my own to a point where I no longer feel there’s a void to be filled in my Kata bag. I’m never against sporting the classic grin that comes with screwing on new glass onto my camera but I ultimately believe that having the right tools at your disposal is the best way to improve at whatever you’re trying to do, so gear-wise I feel content with what I have without yearning for anything more.
It would be easy creating a Photoshop document followed by copying & pasting photos of gear I would want for Christmas but that’s the type of “ultimate photographer gift guide” you’re likely to see throughout the whole month of December being published elsewhere so I have no intention of doing the same.
So as a photographer what do I hope to be handed over that’s neatly wrapped and pulled out from underneath the Christmas tree? Well, it’s not anything tangible. In fact, it’s probably something odd to request but the only thing I want is time.
Improving in anything takes time and effort. The more you put into it, the more you’re likely to see results from any endeavor. If I were to write down all of the sections of “free time” I have outside of my day job and father/husband responsibilities, I would be left with close to little. My wife is extremely supportive and continuously encouraging me to do something more with my photography but regardless of which route I choose to pursue this passion of mine, it’s going to ultimately require time for me to materialize any idea into something substantial.
Needless to say that time is valuable and very often much of one’s energy is spent conjuring up incredible projects in our minds but that’s as far as they go. This “gotta have more” mentality that permeates during the holidays is what I’ve come to characterize as an artistic disease because the momentum and motivation to potentially do something valuable with your camera and talent is stumped by the thought that you can’t perform because you seem to be missing yet another piece of gear in your bag and to brag about.
I’ve made it easy for my wife and her pocket this year. We’re in the process of buying a house so it’s an added incentive for not having to spend on trivial stuff that won’t help me improve as a photographer. The basics, the fundamentals and in the end the stuff that will allow me to get more work done and potentially attract clients is having the time to venture out and shoot. I no longer see the purpose of spending a dime on anything that won’t hustle for me.
The easiest way I’ve managed to attract a decent amount of traffic to this site has been by sharing photographs along with writing about the process that went into capturing them but again, none of it would be possible without having had the time to navigate through a crowded city like New York dedicating myself to capturing people, places or things that are of interest to me.
How exactly can my wife gift me time? Easy. I’m off from work on weekends and occasionally she might be as well and so the simple act of taking care of our son lets say on a Saturday is enough for me to dedicate to an entire day to tackling a project, assuming I’m methodical during the planning so as to make more of my time.
You don’t need for me to speak to you about what steps you need to take to grow more as a photographer because regardless of whether you’ve figured it out or not already, it’s pointless if you don’t have time to develop that third eye, that sixth sense that very often gets you compliments on your work.