Life Is Getting Busier & Some Thoughts About Compartmentalizing

I have been getting an influx of paid shoots recently, and the calendar is getting filled fast, at least for the coming several months. Thankfully I have also piled up on my content buffer for YouTube, with some free time I had previously, I had as many as 8 videos stacked in the pipeline to be released one by one for the coming weeks. It is not easy being a YouTuber, as we adhere to consistency, we do need to continue pumping up comments to please the algorithm. Being a freelance photographer, honestly I cannot predict my work schedule, I can be free for the entire two week stretch, or I will be fully booked with back to back shoots. Either way, having more jobs is better than none at all, so I should not be complaining. 

The images shown in this blog entry were taken during the same outing as the Kampung Baru Raya session, which I have blogged previously (click). These were the remaining photographs that did not fit the mini project theme, and I wanted a tight curation to tell a better story for that blog post. Therefore, the images here will appear somewhat random and incoherent, but hey, sometimes photography is not supposed to be so uptight and all about following rules. I often times would just bring my camera out and aim at whatever that catches my attention. That is the fun part, you shoot whatever you want to shoot. 

I have learned earlier on during my engineering days to compartmentalize my life. When I was an employee full time, I had to focus on my tasks and not have my thoughts stray away into the photography fantasy land. Hence, during office hours, I buried my mind into just work, work and work. After getting off work, I flicked that switch on my mind to photography mode, and I started bringing out the camera for an evening stroll. Same with weekend shutter therapy sessions, I had my photo mode turned on and work mode switched off. This enabled me to function more effectively as an engineer by the weekdays, and photographer enthusiast when weekend comes. 

I find a lot of benefits doing this. When I am socializing with friends, many of whom are not into photography, or don't care about the camera world. I can switch the photographer side of me off, and interact with them better. The last thing I want is for my mind to continue searching for subjects to shoot and start thinking about composition when I see something interesting. I want to be in the moment. I want to enjoy being with the company I am in, or tasting the food that I am eating. Compartmentalizing my life has helped me enjoy my time both as a photographer and outside of the photography world better. 

Not many people can do this - compartmentalizing. I notice photography friends chattering away about their gear obsession in front of other friends who could care less about cameras, and they were so stuck in their own world they did not realize people were already making excuses to leave or to do something else. I see some people having their photography mode on all the time, that when dining with non photographer friends, they would spend 30 minutes shooting the food on the table, while everyone else waited impatiently until the food is cold. Or when travelling with non photography friends, everyone was delayed because of that one last shot, which was far from the last. The list goes on and on, the photographers mind, if not controlled, can linger on and on and never stopped working. It can be detrimental to your own well being, and you need to find time to pause, relax and recharge. 

I realized how exhausting it was having to be 100% fully alert when was heavily involved in the wedding photoshoot. The tiring part of photography was not the running around, or carrying heavy equipment, or standing on your feet for the whole day. No, the part that chipped away your stamina was being mentally prepared for the shots that were unexpected. You heightened your senses, your increased your level of alertness to be ready for that decisive moment that can happen any time. Being that alert for 5 minutes, or 10 minutes was fine, but imaging doing that for the entire day, hoping to capture the best moments for your clients, and you do want to do your best, that can take a toll on you. 

On the job, yes you have to turn on that photography mode fully. No questions asked. It is when you are not working, you don't have to deliver to your client, and I see a lot of people having this being alert all the time, which they do not realize, will eventually cause some sort of burn out. It is just a matter of time. 

I don't believe in carrying your camera with you everywhere you go to. I believe in carrying your camera when you want to shoot something, or be in your photography zone. Having your camera with you all the time can be a distraction, not necessarily healthy for you and those around you. You tend to see things and want to shoot them, and if that is not a photography session, that can alter the course of your conversation with a friend, or an outing that was supposed to be enjoyable, but you just spend the next 20 minutes obsessing about getting the best shot. 

I split my days into several different compartments. The content creator/YouTuber self. The street photographer self. The blogger self (now, this writing as a blogger). The casual, nothing serious, just want to shoot for fun self. And I can turn all of that off, and be a friend, or a listener, or a teacher, or just be completely still and enjoy listening to music. 

There are far many other things to enjoy in life than worry about the next best shot. I don't want to die thinking about my camera settings or how to compose that next frame. 

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1 comment:

  1. I get the idea of burnout but for me I still believe take your camera everywhere.
    I dont photograph as much as you do. Its just a hobby now.
    Some of my favorite photos have not been planned but I had my camera with me.
    Just about everyone has a smartphone so they have a camera everywhere they go.
    I believe you still should carry a dedicated camera with you for just in case scenarios.
    I do go overboard with photography when Im with non-photographers mostly talking about a camera or something to do with photography.I dont hold up people or ruin their food by taking photos Im more courteous than that.
    I get that Youtube is hard thats why I never really kept with it myself.
    Robin dont burn out, we count on you.