We have all lived this moment in our lives. When the dust starts to settle on your camera, or you haven’t unpacked your gear from that photo-shoot you did one month ago. And don’t think the “pros” are immune to these feelings of inadequacy. Being a professional photographer does not mean photographing every day of our lives. Many of us have other obligations, other jobs, and other ways we earn a living. But after a certain period of time passes without lifting our cameras (and we all have timeframes we hold ourselves to), the feelings of guilt start to creep in.

You know what I have to say about that? Stop. Feeling. Guilty.

I’ve rambled on about this topic before, but it’s worth repeating. Trust me. You will have moments where you pause and reflect. And then you’ll have days, or weeks, where you do nothing at all with your camera. Or maybe the imported photos you wanted to process and share go untouched on your computer for days or weeks at a time.

Sometimes the guilt reveals itself in the form of envy. It’s difficult to look at social media and not be jealous of some of what we see. Or maybe the guilt comes out of duty as a photographer. We should be using our camera as often as possible … right?

If I have learned anything about anything, it’s that breaks are good, even when they are not self-imposed. Sometimes these periods of photo-inactivity just happen. Maybe the weather is not behaving, or other obligations and priorities get in the way.

Eventually the creative itch will come back, and you’ll scratch it. You’ll do it because you must, because there is no other way. You will carve out time or force yourself to hold a camera with something beautiful in front of it and press the shutter, and you will create. It will get to a point that you just won’t have a choice.

So when the guilt starts nagging, just do your best to shut it up.

Guilt is cancer. Guilt will confine you, torture you, destroy you as an artist. It’s a black wall. It’s a thief. — Dave Grohl

We have all lived this moment in our lives. When the dust starts to settle on your camera, or you haven’t unpacked your gear from that photo-shoot you did one month ago. And don’t think the “pros” are immune to these feelings of inadequacy. Being a professional photographer does not mean photographing every day of our lives. Many of us have other obligations, other jobs, and other ways we earn a living. But after a certain period of time passes without lifting our cameras (and we all have timeframes we hold ourselves to), the feelings of guilt start to creep in.

You know what I have to say about that? Stop. Feeling. Guilty.

I’ve rambled on about this topic before, but it’s worth repeating. Trust me. You will have moments where you pause and reflect. And then you’ll have days, or weeks, where you do nothing at all with your camera. Or maybe the imported photos you wanted to process and share go untouched on your computer for days or weeks at a time.

Sometimes the guilt reveals itself in the form of envy. It’s difficult to look at social media and not be jealous of some of what we see. Or maybe the guilt comes out of duty as a photographer. We should be using our camera as often as possible … right?

If I have learned anything about anything, it’s that breaks are good, even when they are not self-imposed. Sometimes these periods of photo-inactivity just happen. Maybe the weather is not behaving, or other obligations and priorities get in the way.

Eventually the creative itch will come back, and you’ll scratch it. You’ll do it because you must, because there is no other way. You will carve out time or force yourself to hold a camera with something beautiful in front of it and press the shutter, and you will create. It will get to a point that you just won’t have a choice.

So when the guilt starts nagging, just do your best to shut it up.

Guilt is cancer. Guilt will confine you, torture you, destroy you as an artist. It’s a black wall. It’s a thief. — Dave Grohl

Nicole S. Young is a photographer, published author, and educator specializing in Lightroom, Photoshop, and photography. She is best known for her books on food photography but is widely versed in various photographic genres, including landscape, nature, stock, travel, and lifestyle.

2 Comments

  1. bgophoto September 4, 2015 at 11:40 am - Reply

    Thanks for the timely post Nicole. It’s almost as though you wrote directly to me today! I’ve definitely got those feelings at the moment, not having created much lately and feeling the guilt of associated with this. I’ll try and follow your (and Dave’s) advice!

  2. Dena September 4, 2015 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    Well said. Great advice.

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