Think about a typical day. How early do you start using your phone or log into Facebook? First thing? What’s the last thing you do at night? Is it the same? Do you fall asleep with your iPad on your chest? Do you ever stop and think it’s all too much?
As photographers we spend significant amounts of time “connected.” We have websites and blogs to update and read, pictures to edit, clients and vendors to connect with; and it’s all made easier by being constantly in touch. But there is a price that we’re paying for this connected lifestyle.
We struggle to focus on one task at a time. We check every notification that lights up our phone, even if we’re in the middle of a conversation with a real person. We go out to lunch with a friend or vendor and the phone sits face up on the table…as if we’re waiting for something better to come along.
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Flickr, text messages, blog comments –I don’t know about you but it’s overwhelming. We spend so much of our time in front of a screen that we struggle to accomplish anything without being connected. Do you check your phone on shoots? If so, how do you think that makes the client feel? Can the phone stay at home when you go to lunch? If not, then we need to rethink our relationship with technology.
But you might be asking, “why is this a problem?”
Our ultra-connected life creates two problems. First, it prevents us from having a real connection with a real person and sharing experiences. Second, it’s stifling our creativity and our sense of adventure.
So what to do?
I believe there are 4 steps you can take right now. And no – you don’t have to go cold turkey.
1. Start by evaluating your technology habits.
How many devices do you own? How often do you use them throughout the day? Have they permeated every aspect of your life?
2. Think back to when you first started taking pictures.
What was the goal? I started by photographing nature and the wilderness. I loved capturing the essence of my connection to the outdoors.
3. Commit to spending one hour a day COMPLETELY disconnected.
Start simple. Go for your daily run with just the sound of your feet hitting the ground, read a book, go to lunch with a friend, sit and stare at the wall. Whatever it takes.
4. Plan a photography adventure.
Gather a few friends, leave your cell phones at home, bring a camera with one lens and find something fun to photograph. Go to the mountains for an afternoon hike. Do some street photography in your local downtown area. Whatever it may be, keep it simple and try to remember why you started taking pictures in the first place.
I hope you will consider this an opportunity to find some “lost time” in your day while removing a barrier between you and the subjects you’re photographing. I know one day or even one hour might seem like a lot, but practice it for a few weeks. Before you know it, you’ll be ready for a week-long backpacking trip in the wilderness.
About the Author
Andrew Schaefer is a husband, new father, photographer, adventurer and outdoor enthusiast. He has been photographing nature and the wilderness for many years. He and his wife Jessica have been photographing weddings and families for 7 years. He believes that true connections between people are necessary to live a great life. He also encourages people to get out and go on adventures…because finding adventure is just fun. You can visit his adventure website here and learn more about shutting off here.