Why jostling is the most dangerous trend in photography
A modern trend that is pervading all freelancers is jostling itself. The mantra is repeated by some of the most popular productivity “gurus”. The more hours you put into it, the more results you will get. However, to follow these hours = the idea of improvement is dangerous for your health, your creativity and, ultimately, the photography.
As a fairly young person, I believed in the idea that the more hours I put into a given thing, the more results I would get. It was my work ethic for just about everything from learning to be a photographer or a writer. Starting the day at 5:30 p.m. in the gym and ending at 11:00 p.m. at the office was the dream lifestyle. Fortunately, it never got to this point, as my natural laziness ensured my stability as a young freelance writer. Part of the problem was fighting for wasting an hour watching Family Guy. Of course, how dare I watch Family Guy if I hadn’t updated my Facebook page bio or created a new business card that would impress anyone who got it?
Unfortunately, many newbie photographers fall for this scramble trap. They watch motivational videos on YouTube with people explaining how they did it: taking pictures every day, 365 projects, working 17 hours a day to buy the best camera, having three odd jobs unrelated to the industry, etc. The reason behind the hype around Hustle culture is that many believe that time spent on a given task translates into useful work done. This is simply not true.
Productive work ≠ Useful work
A silly example is to order: any restless toy. The object is to press a rubber button, then flip the object over and press the button again. While keeping you busy, it doesn’t result in any useful work. It feels like an engine is idling: fuel is consumed, parts are moved, but the car is stationary.
Applied to photography, this suggests that not everything you do in connection with photography is useful in helping you become a better photographer. A 365 photo project, where you take a photo every day doesn’t make sense and wastes your time if you’re doing it for the sake of it. Designing a new business card will no longer give you reservations if there is no one to give it to. Working 17 hours a day to create the most creative website that no one has ever seen will end up hurting you because no one likes a complicated website. I built my website in a few hours and my logo only took me an hour with a fancy font in InDesign (spent too much time finding the font). The important thing to remember is to ask yourself if the task you are doing makes any sense. As a fashion photographer, I only take landscape photos for travel and recreation.
Restless culture ruins people’s health
One of the main dangers of the Hustle culture is overwork. Overwork has been proven by scientific studies to adversely affect your mental and physical health.
Speaking from personal experience, the culture of restlessness led me at one point to be unable to relax. The to-do list always contained more things than I could do, and at the end of the day, I dreaded the photos I didn’t edit, the articles I didn’t write, the calls. phone calls that I had not made. This ultimately led to being constantly angered, closed to any emerging and short-sighted opportunity. There was a daily to-do list, but no annual plan. On a large scale, that means focusing on the details rather than the journey. What good is a machine that works perfectly and goes the wrong way? Fortunately, this never resulted in serious consequences. Finally, poor mental health translates into a lack of creativity: a real evil in the creative industries.
The main effects of overwork or pushing can leave you undernourished. Naturally, a healthy lunch that takes time to consume can seem like a waste of time when there are energy products readily available. The health effects of a poor diet are well known. Another is the lack of sleep. Feeling guilty for not having completed the “necessary” work, especially when it is not pleasant, leads to a lack of sleep. Finally, the mantra work hard, play hard puts unnecessary stress on your body. Working hard means poor nutrition and lack of sleep, while playing hard leads to unnecessarily high alcohol consumption and late night meals. While I am not a health expert and cannot tell you all the details, I am speaking from personal experience with the culture of restlessness.
What to do about it?
The culture of unrest is damaging, even deadly, that is clear. Let me tell you how I overcame the idea of working for the sake of working.
1. 80/20 rule
It’s probably abused, but it’s true. When I analyzed my annual income, I noticed that about 20% of all jobs brought in 80% of the income. The same goes for the hardware: only 20% of what I own was used on 80% of the jobs. The general consensus is that 20% of inputs translate to 80% of outputs. Tracking your daily tasks and how they impact your income and enthusiasm will help you know which 20% to focus on.
2. Don’t watch motivational videos
There are a lot of YouTube videos that will make you want to go to work 17 hours a day every day. I know for a fact that they give endorphins a boost and make you work on anything, just to be someone who “does it while others are sleeping”. However, watching them is the most ridiculous way to waste time because you haven’t been doing anything other than watching a video in your shorts for 20 minutes. Those 20 minutes could have been spent learning something that will improve your job.
3. Realize that time is the most valuable asset. Complete stop.
The only thing that is not renewable in your life is time. If doo-doo hits the fan and you lose your job, McDonald’s is still hiring, if you are sick your body can recover to some extent, and so on. the only thing you can’t get back is time. Therefore, paying attention to where your time is going is essential to becoming a more successful photographer.
The only thing that counts
As photographers, we are selling our work, not the personality, not the fancy website, or anything else. The only thing that matters to you as a photographer is having a great job. Being sympathetic plays a bit into that, but good work overshadows it. Although my website took me a few hours to complete, the images it contained took me weeks to produce. To produce them, I didn’t use a mediocre team, but instead searched for the best models, retouchers and stylists I could get my hands on. Although I spent a lot of time learning, taking meaningful photos, etc., I did so while giving myself a bit of a break. Being able to sell your work comes from producing good work, producing good work comes from having a breathing space where you can be inspired and come up with ideas. Don’t spend days at a Starbucks telling people you’re an artist, but give yourself a bit of a break between projects.
The culture of unrest is the most dangerous trend that infects freelancers, especially young people. With its effects on everything from creativity to health, it must be fought with intelligent and meaningful work. I always wonder if what I’m doing is fun, meaningful, exciting, or helps me improve my photography. While this isn’t always the case, I try to align at least three of these factors.