PHOTOGRAPHY IS A HABIT FOR LIFE | Darrin Henry
By a mile, the best creative hobby is photography. Ok, that’s just my biased opinion, but even so. Young or old, male or female, big budget, small budget… it works for everyone pretty much.
Photography isn’t prejudiced by location – city streets or wide open countryside, tiny island or big continent, snowy mountains or desert plains, the camera loves to go wherever we go.
And it’s not only the creative side of things either. This is a hobby that improves fitness, reduces stress and generally helps you appreciate the world around you – how can you not be interested.
I’m convinced there’s no other pastime quite like it.
Perhaps the best thing about photography is, ‘personal satisfaction’; the sense of achievement is entirely in the hands of the individual. The photographer gets to decide how happy he or she is with their own results.
Here are my top reasons why the best creative hobby is photography and one that everyone should consider:
1 – Creativity
At a raw, stripped down level, good photography stems from understanding light. This is what guides all enthusiasts and encourages a creative eye.
How light falls, how it flatters or spoils, how shadows add texture; warm light, cool light, diffused light, time of day and so on. It’s an art form basically, this mastery of light.
Photographers quickly learn different angles can dramatically transform the impact of a picture. We’re either squatting and squinting or climbing and straining to capture a better shot.
As for getting creative with subject matter, there are no limits. Lining up a natural foliage frame in a shot, pulling out tiny details with a macro lens or timing long exposures for cityscapes at night, photography is full of exciting, creative possibilities.
2 – Education, Another Reason The Best Creative Hobby Is Photography
Taking pictures is an open invitation to learn, an education for sure. A camera plus internet access is a classroom of endless possibilities.
Sharon and I are forever researching our pictures before we post on this blog. It might be looking up the correct name of a flower, learning the history of a monument or putting facts and figures to a tourist attraction.
Some research is old-school, (not everything is online) – this method is called, talking! Sitting down with the carpenter and teasing out 40-year-old memories was essential for our recent ‘boat builder, Time-Lapse’ story.
Even adding simple captions to a Facebook picture can be an educational experience. Confirming the correct spelling, identifying a breed of animal or researching the history of a piece of architecture.
The educational benefits of photography are very real.
3 – A moment in time
Those precious, never to be repeated, moments in time, another great reason to pick up the camera and why the best creative hobby is photography.
Handwritten diaries, or paper based journals, have lost popularity today, but that simple idea of documenting day to day thoughts and events of everyday life is more widespread than ever. The convenience of digital cameras and mega storage capacities makes it an absolute doddle to preserve memories in pictures.
Mobile phones are permanently, it seems, at arm’s length capturing our every little experience.
A night out with mates, a family gathering or just coffee at a street café, it’s all snap and share fodder. Instagram feeds and personal blogs have become the modern-day diary, but without the privacy.
Photographic quality though, is the first casualty of this digital convenience. Endless point-and-shoot uploads with little consideration to creative composure.
Here’s when photography as a hobby can really help. A little time composing, framing and being creative will be well appreciated by friends and family scrolling their timelines.
4 – Socially Acceptable
Photography is also a great conversation starter, a key that opens social deadlocks. It can fascinate, inspire and entertain friends and strangers alike, stirring a hundred different emotions along the way.
Sharon and I are regularly approached by someone wanting to pass comment on pictures we’ve posted. Photography is an easy topic to broach, share and understand.
Obviously no one wants to hear how you adjusted ISO to reduce noise levels then struggled with limited aperture to compensate – oh no, let’s not go there! But keep it light and generalised and you will find photography is safe subject matter for everyone chew on.
The other social advantage of this hobby is the vibrant community of photographers we automatically join. This is the one place where you can talk ISO and f-stops, with fellow camera nerds. The internet means our community is global, there’s always someone willing to help or chat.
Photography is a particularly useful hobby for people who are quiet or shy. As mentioned earlier, it’s a superb ice-breaker and can do wonders building confidence in social encounters.
You can share photography with other hobbies. If you’re into hiking, gardening or dancing for instance, you can combine all of these with photography.
5 – Make Money
Ah, the elusive career temptations of photography!
Perhaps, unsurprisingly, this should be the last reason to take up photography. Making an income from photography is more challenging than it used to be, so tread carefully down this path. The photographer’s forest has a lot more trees than ever; standing out takes serious talent or a dynamic business approach, plus, of course, a little luck.
That said, photography falls under the discipline of ‘creative’ work and a report from the UK shows that ‘creative industries grew at twice the rate of the wider economy in 2015-16.’ It went on to reveal, ‘creative industries now make up 5.3% of the UK economy.’ So there is scope to make photography help pay the bills.
Alongside the conventional photography gigs there are the niche markets that require a professional.
Ultimately though, make sure photography is a hobby first and foremost, which means it will always be fun.
6 – All inclusive
With gender equality and equal pay being a hot topic at present all over the world, it’s good to know photography excellence is open to everyone. Quality in this regard is gender-neutral.
There is no way to tell just from looking at a picture (mirror selfies aside) whether the photographer was male or female.
Language is no barrier to appreciating great photography.
A good picture doesn’t care about the age of the finger on the button – 18 or 80, if it’s good, it’s good. No one asks how old is the photographer?
7 – Fitness
Bugs bite sooner or later!
Whether it’s the landscape bug, the travel bug or perhaps the wedding bug, there are scores of photography bugs and one of the little blighters will eventually get you.
But a camera takes you to interesting places. Walking and exploring is unavoidable in the search for new pictures, whether it’s along city pavements or forest trails. It’s an inescapable way to keep fit. Lugging a bag full of lenses and batteries only adds to the physical element. Like army training!
Photo-journalists need tonnes of stamina; an active news story can often drag through an unscripted day (or days) before reaching a conclusion.
Wedding photography also is an intense physical exercise, an endurance event in formal clothes and uncomfortable shoes with different locations, changing light and an unstoppable schedule. You have to keep up. You need to be fit.
Even studio work is demanding. Many times I’ve woken the next day after a long studio shoot and taken a while to realise why I’m aching as if I had run a marathon.
8 – Mental Health Benefits
I’m paddling in the medical pool now where I have no official authority, but there is enough testimony out there advocating the health benefits of photography.
There are reports from anxiety sufferers of the calming effect of photography, that it lowers heart rate.
The One Project website has a mission to raise: ‘awareness of the therapeutic power of photography— the photography community for people suffering from depression and anxiety.’
Carrying a camera and trying to capture a good picture can be a great distraction from the worries of life.
Photographers are always thinking, analysing and planning. This can only be good for keeping the brain in working order as it gets older. I’m hoping, anyway.
An ‘experienced’ photographer has much more to pull from the ‘life locker.’ Knowledge of shooting in different locations, pros and cons of different kit and contending with unplanned surprises could all be valuable on a big project.
Many years ago, trying to stay awake on a nightshift in a previous job, I heard a BBC radio programme that I’ve never forgotten. It revealed that Chinese elders retained mental sharpness better than their western counterparts. Apparently the community in China respected, valued and sought their senior citizens’ knowledge and experience which made them feel relevant into old age.
So, mental health is clearly another reason the best creative hobby is photography for me.
9 – Affordability
Photography can be as low cost or expensive as you want it to be.
From mobile phone cameras to big DSLRs, virtually everyone today has access to a camera. In the old days of film, photography as a hobby was prohibitively expensive – a roll of 35mm film with 36 exposures might cost £4 to buy the same again to have it developed into prints. Imagine the youngsters of today being told 36 pictures will cost them £8.
Digital technology has been seismic in making photography accessible to all.
Printing images, mind you, still costs money, but now it’s optional. There are many other ways to enjoy and share pictures without printing or having to open your wallet.
A reasonably inexpensive camera, such as Panasonic’s all action Lumix Action camera, is a great investment. We’ve owned one for the last three and half years. It captures decent, high res pictures, is compact, full of features and easy to use. It’s extremely reliable plus, it’s waterproof.
At the other end of the scale our Canon 5D MK-III is a chunky monkey, physically and financially. But it delivers phenomenal image quality.
There are a thousand budget options in-between these two cameras. Add a laptop with some picture editing software and you’re good to go as a photographer. Additional equipment is then optional.
Affordability means the best creative hobby is photography for everyone.
10th Reason Best Creative Hobby Is Photography – No Limits
There’s no ceiling when it comes to expanding creative photography. There is always scope to improve, experiment and try new things.
Photography is art – yes it is – so style and direction is up to the individual, the artist. There are no restrictive rules to hold you back.
The best photographers all have an ongoing obsession, almost, to go shoot better than what they have already. They understand there is always room to improve.
Just when you are suckered into thinking your photography is pretty good along comes a picture from someone else to remind you not to get carried away. And that’s a good thing.
I follow different photographers and online forums which never cease to wow and inspire me to do better.
11 – Photography A Great Hobby For Children
Finally, for children the best creative hobby is photography and this should now seem fairly obvious.
It’s a hobby you can enthuse kids with that could stay with them for life.
Why would you not want your kid to be creative, socially aware, business minded, fit and healthy, confident and learning all the time?
Photography is a constant process of decision-making – where to stand, portrait or landscape, zoom or wide-angle, side-lit or back-lit, include or exclude from the frame, fast or slow shutter, take it now or wait a few seconds, and on and on. Young people can transfer these decision making skills into other aspects of life.
It’s also a fantastic line to add to a CV. Employers are always interested in hiring creative people. Photographers are known for approaching situations from different angles.
Some Extra Reading
So there we have it. The best creative hobby is photography is something I say with a lot of confidence. It’s an opinion, of course, so it would be interesting to hear what others might recommend instead.
Finally, if I’ve convinced you to invest more time with your camera, here’s something you might find useful.
I’ve owned a few editions of this book, the Digital Photographer’s Handbook. Because it’s so well written with fantastic explanations which are constantly being updated with new editions, it’s my top recommendation for reading material.