7 Reasons to Embrace Being a Hobbyist Photographer
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7 Reasons to Embrace Being a Hobbyist Photographer

When my husband and I purchased our first DSLR shortly before our twins were due to arrive in the spring of 2012, I knew that I would someday I would want to learn more about photography. With two newborns to feed, change, and love, however, it was some time before that someday came.

I love her personal reasons for embracing life as a hobbyist photographer. Must read - "7 Reasons to Embrace Being a Hobbyist Photographer"

Read More: Owner to Hobbyist-8 Lessons Learned

Eventually, though, I found the time to teach myself how to use my fancy new camera. At first, I wasn’t very good. Actually, I was a pretty awful photographer. I had yet to learn about avoiding limb chops, and I thought that a photograph wasn’t complete without a heavy matte filter.

Over time and with LOTS of practice, I got better. No longer ashamed of my pictures, I started sharing my images with friends on social media, and soon after, they began asking if I would take their family portraits. Some friends and family even encouraged me to pursue photography as a business venture. I considered it, but never felt “ready” to take on clients and knew that I didn’t have the time as a stay at home mama to two small children to devote to opening and maintaining a successful small business.

I decided that a photography business would have to wait until our twins were in school. Until then, I would continue shooting for myself and for my family.

auerbach-hat-girl

In the blink of an eye, our twins are now four years old and enrolled in a half-day 4K program. Next year, they will spend full days in kindergarten. I will have much more time on my hands, and could open that photography business that I’ve been thinking about all these years. And yet, I have my reservations.

Becoming a working photographer scares me a bit. The last several years of practicing photography as a hobby have been so wonderful that I don’t know that I want to “mess up a good thing”.

From flexible working hours to the absence of any deadlines, there are several reasons why I have loved being a hobbyist photographer.

  • No.
    01
    Work In Your Pajamas

    Working photographers must dress comfortably for their job, yes, but as a hobbyist, I can literally take pictures in my pajamas. There’s no need to dress to impress my subjects when they’re often in pajamas themselves!

    auerbach-bath-boy

  • No.
    02
    Freedom to Play

    As a hobbyist photographer, I feel free to experiment while photographing my subjects. I’ve captured my children through a prism held in front of my lens and with Vaseline smeared around the edges of a lens filter. I’ve shot through a plastic bag and through plastic wrap. I’ve also attempted freelensing.

    I’ve played around with various exposures and perspectives and compositions… all without the pressure of capturing the perfect image for a paying client.

    auerbach-melon-girl

  • No.
    03
    Take a Day Off

    Like most photographers do, I hit ruts. I go days without shooting anything, or continue to shoot but decide I hate every single picture I take.

    If I were a working photographer, I wouldn’t have that luxury to step away from the camera for a day or two if I just didn’t feel like shooting.

    auerbach-beach

  • No.
    04
    Projects, Projects, Projects

    For each year over the last four years, I have (mostly) completed a Project 365. This daily practice has IMMENSELY contributed to my growth as a photographer. I participate in several blog circles with other photographers; in one, we tell the story of a local outing through our photographs.

    If I were a working photographer, I honestly don’t know that I could keep up with all of the photography projects that I’ve been able to tackle as a hobbyist.

    auerbach-chalk-art

  • No.
    05
    Community

    I consider myself extremely lucky to have “met” some amazingly talented photographers via social media. I have followed the work of some of these photographers for years, and credit them with inspiring me and motivating me to keep learning and practicing.

    I am an admin for two wonderful Facebook pages, and am an active participant in several online photography groups. I spend quite a bit of time online supporting and corresponding with all of these artists; I fear that I wouldn’t have the time to do as much of that networking if I were a working photographer.

    auerbach-foggy-day

  • No.
    06
    No Boundaries

    When I have agreed to take pictures for friends, I typically meet them during the golden hour at a local park. Always golden hour. Always a park. As a hobbyist, I shoot anytime, anywhere.

    I’ve captured images of my children while they were sleeping in their beds, playing on the beach in mid-day sun, and while painting their latest masterpieces at the easel in our playroom. Shooting at all times of the day and in many different locations has forced me to learn about more about light than constantly shooting during the golden hour ever would.

    auerbach-dining-room-art

  • No.
    07
    Making Memories

    I have documented life and love for my children and family for the last four years. My children have more pictures of themselves in their first four years of life than I probably do after 38 years. I wouldn’t trade those images, those memories for any paycheck.

    auerbach-laughing-boy

I don’t know where photography will lead me in the next year or two; if I can muster up the courage, I may take that leap of faith and open that business. I know that I will never regret these years spent “just” as a hobbyist, though. It’s been such a good thing for me and my photography.

10 Comments
  • Carol Banach
    October 7, 2016 at 8:42 AM

    Becky, your dedication to learning by doing is inspiring. Whatever you decide to do with your talents will be successful. Keep on shooting and sharing.

  • Kari Ganske
    October 14, 2016 at 12:15 PM

    Becky! This is a great article and speaks to me right now, too. I needed the reminder that I don’t have to be in business to be successful and happy as a photographer. I am my family’s historian and that is more than enough to fulfill me and my creativity. Thank you!

  • The PHOTOROGR Project
    October 18, 2016 at 11:17 AM

    How profound and timely! Keep shooting! PHOTOROGR

  • Sheila Meyer
    October 18, 2016 at 11:41 AM

    Wow! This could be me, thank you for your insight and making me feel that its ok to just be a hobbyist. I have people ask all the time for me to take their family pictures and I don’t want to be mean but it’s just not my thing. Part of it is because I know I don’t have the confidence in myself and I’m always afraid they’ll be disappointed. Part of it is because I just love to capture the beauty of nature, and things a lot of people don’t see with the naked eye or just don’t take the time to notice. Don’t get me wrong people are just as beautiful as nature, but I’m more of a candid shot person. I recently took some photos at a wedding my daughter was in, not the usual bride, groom, & group photos but photos of a little girl that picked up one of the bouquets or a little boy holding the door open behind the bride so her dress didn’t get caught, those are the ones I love to take, much like your photos of your children. I also like to do macro work. I took some photos of snow flakes last winter and showed them to a 78 year old friend, she said they ere the most beautiful things she had seen and had no idea in all her 78 years that no 2 snowflakes were alike and they really are shaped like the illustrations you see, that’s what makes me want to take photos. My only regret is that I didn’t start when my children were young, back in the film days (they’re 25 and 21 now). I have tons of pictures of them, just not the best quality. I’ll be ready for the grand kids though!

  • Sarah Brandt
    October 18, 2016 at 3:35 PM

    Thank you for the article. So much of what I read is geared toward professional photographers. I have no desire to do so and often feel like I’m the strange one. Do you have any recommendations for photography communities for hobbist photographers?

  • Teresa
    October 18, 2016 at 5:33 PM

    I love this so much! I’m at the same stage as you. My daughter is four and will be off to kindergarten next year. I’m considering making the leap to shoot professionally, but I also know that if I do, it needs to be on my terms for so many of the reasons you just mentioned. I want my family to come first, and I want to enjoy photography, not feel like it is a burden. Thank you for your insight…you’ve given me lots to think about!

  • Lotta Axing
    October 19, 2016 at 7:55 AM

    The best I have read in a long time. Someone once said – stay an amateur for as long as you can. You really showed why. I took the decision not to hunt a career some time ago, and my kids are all grown. :-) . We are all different but if you can and want to stay a hobbyist that is I think a blessing. I think it might generate money anyway, as things do when you just pour your love into something. But that is another story. Thanks again for an amazing article.

  • Kevin Carter
    May 11, 2017 at 5:20 PM

    Thank you for this blog! I am constantly under pressure on whether I should go pro or stay a hobbyist. I can say so many words about this but you hit it on the nail! I don’t feel alone anymore. Thank you.

  • Mary
    November 14, 2017 at 10:20 AM

    I figured out years ago that I am meant to be a hobbyist. Even having the skills to deliver professional images, when photography is work it’s no longer fun and interesting. The added stress and pressure are not for me. I was getting too many requests for weddings, family portraits, and event photography. I did do some photography work, enough to decide that the money did not make up for the stress. Editing and printing for others takes time away from my own personal photos projects. And with a child now, I cannot fathom devoting time and effort to photograph anyone but her. I feel bad telling people no, but I enjoy my uninterrupted weekends and time off with my family and working on my own photography so much more now.

  • Marcel Evans
    June 14, 2018 at 5:26 AM

    Becky, your story brought some important thoughts to remember as hobbyist photographer. It also comes into my thinking to venture into photography business, but as you have told it here, to devote onse’s self into photography business, is not as easy “1, 2, click” for busy persons like you and me. That’s why we choose the option as hobbyist photographer.

    I wrote a comment here because I noticed in your story that you are also a self-learned photographer, right? me too. I am not into commenting about whether making photography as a business or a hobby. I am learning and still eager to learn about this hobby. I have just started a year ago after I got my first ever mirrorless camera from fujifilm. I started doing homeoworks, read some articles and blogs about photography like this one of yours and practice shooting. Learning is a continous process, as we all know. With the right gears and right source of informations, everything would be easy and even make this new hobby more fascinating.

    With the valid informations reading your blog will help relieve myself from the inconvenience. To choose being a hobbyinst there’s nothinbg to worry – I have my time without the pressure of any deadline or backlog in editing, printing, etc. – I will be much more happier to learn more in my free time. Thank you for sharing your story.

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