In the last couple blog entries,
I've been laying the groundwork to say: I need to take at least a couple years off from photography. I expect I may shoot a performance or project here and there, but I'm effectively on hiatus / inactive.
Workflow and EfficiencyFirst I'll refer back to my previous entries on this subject:
- 2011 - General process, some time discussion in comments
- Camp Hollywood 2014 - Detailed workflow discussion.
|Stage||2014 time||2019 time|
|On-camera review and delete |
half done at dance
|5 hrs||3 - 3.5 hrs|
|Initial ranking||4 - 5 hrs||done in previous stage|
|Initial ranking demotions||9-18 hrs||4.6 - 6 hrs|
|Initial ranking promotions||1 hr||1 hr|
|Re-evaluate 3's and 4's, |
try to reduce set more
|4 - 8 hrs||skip, settle for larger set|
|Editing - crop, rotate, color, |
|137 hrs||50 - 100 hrs|
|Re-evaluate 4's after processing||13.7 hrs||1 hr (less picky)|
|Exporting and publishing||2 hrs||2 hrs|
|Tag Facebook albums||15 hrs||15 hrs|
|Process Tongues and "Best of" albums||6 hrs||6 hrs|
|Approximate Total||approx 204 hrs||approx 109 hrs|
While it is great that I almost cut the hours in half, 109 is still a pretty big number. I think 2017 and 2018 took a little more time just because they had a few hundred more photos.
I felt like 2014 was absolutely not sustainable. I've been looking for ways to scale back the photography hours since then.
- First, I scaled back the editing so I wasn't going to paint detailed brighten/darken mattes like I did for 2014. I do believe it improved the photos in that set, but I just don't have the time for that. So that right there would probably knock off around 70 hrs from the Camp Hollywood set.
- In 2014, I would agonize for hours, trying to reduce the set, especially in the Facebook release. In the last few years, I've just gotten less picky. It's faster for me to edit a large set than to spend the time rejecting enough photos to be meaningful.
Attempting to Scale Back: Coverage / Subject MatterI've been trying to figure out how to make more time to do other things.
First, I pretty much stopped shooting at the regular weekly venues. I realized that if I shoot on Saturday night, I'd burn all my productive time on Sunday editing and uploading. I couldn't continue this on a regular basis. I pretty much stopped shooting those and only a few shot big events. On top of that, this year (2019) I lost my flash, so I can't really shoot dark social dances anymore.
Three medium-to-big events usually meant spending 3-7 weeks after each event, processing the photos. Just three events ended up totaling about 3 months in a given year. I've been desperately trying to figure out how to reduce this.
- I pretty much stopped shooting social dances and the random silliness in the hallways because I wanted to dance. Also, the camera setup is different (add a flash, preferably off-camera, and appropriate settings for that), so it's a minor hassle to switch back and forth.
- Jam circles are especially tough to get ready for, and sometimes it gets awkward if I'm already dancing with someone when one breaks out.
- Next to go was shooting daytime workshops/classes. While I think I've gotten a few really fun photos in class, it's distracting for everyone - the teachers, the other students, and even me, and I wind up not getting as much out of the class as I'd like.
- In the last few years, I haven't gotten as many shots of the bands. This is mostly because I want to be dancing when the band is playing.
- For a few years at Camp Hollywood, I covered the "Miss Camp Hollywood" contest. The challenge was that it was difficult to get a flattering photo mid-day, with the sun directly overhead, and just being daylight had a significantly different camera setup.
Negative AttitudeThese days, at an event, I find myself preoccupied thinking about the work ahead and how to reduce my workload. I know on average, every time I click the shutter is going to be a minute of work later. A minute may not sound like much, but I'm thinking on the scale of hundreds or thousands of photos. I find myself getting overwhelmed by the sheer number of competitors/routines.
I experience competitions through the viewfinder of the camera and I feel disconnected. As I wait for the moments to shoot, I'm constantly adjusting the lens and focus, trying to keep the dancers in frame, ideally in a good composition. I'm waiting for the dancers to face me, waiting for clean lines, and/or and interesting pose/silhouette. At the beginning of a song, I get stressed with doubt over whether I will be able to get a good shot at all. This is not a reflection of the dancers, but more:
- Did I get a spot with a good angle? Even when something cool happens, am I in the right spot to get a good silhouette?
- Am I wide enough to catch an air step? Am I close up enough to get a sharp image?
- Is the camera in focus? Frequently, my cameras focus too far back, especially with the 24-70mm lens.
- Did I click in time? If I could see the dancers at the optimal moment, it means my camera did not, usually because I was a hair too late.
Instead of the fun/excitement/joy of the dance, I get consumed focused on what works in a still from a certain angle and the selection/editing work ahead. I find myself stewing in a bad attitude, dwelling on the stress. And I'd rather be a more positive presence.
Where to Go From Here?Now, I'm at a loss for how to scale back and make time for other projects.
Of course, ideally I would just get more disciplined about when to take a shot, get better at predicting when something is or isn't going to happen, and get faster/more efficient at reviewing/evaluating my photos. But looking at the last 5 years, it hasn't happened in any significant way.
For the last 5 years, I've thought about how to reduce my workload to free up time for other activities and I haven't been able to come up with a solution. The only thing I can do is to step back and take a break for a couple years.