I’ve been dabbling in photography off and on for years now. It’s one of my eight million and one hobbies that I never quite seem to practice consistently, which I’m mostly okay with at this point. Maybe I should focus on just one to become exceptional, but I like dipping my toes in a little bit of everything. I don’t have the attention span to focus on one. The only time this tendency becomes an issue is when I’m writing because I can’t seem to finish a long-form project, but I try to stay optimistic about that despite my past shortcomings.
I made it a point to ask for nothing but a new camera lens for my birthday in March, an auto focus 35mm. I’ve been using a manual 50mm for years now because, generally, the older manuals are more in my budget–which is why I asked for the auto as a gift. Boy, has it already made a huge difference. I’m not sure if I just have bad eye sight or what exactly, but my photos feel so much clearer and, honestly, I’m having more fun. I finally figured out how to use my camera remote and even got my tripod out of storage to start adventuring into selfie territory outside of the front facing camera of my phone. My interest in the craft has been reinvigorated, and with every sunny day that we’re blessed with, my enthusiasm grows even more.
Sometimes the pictures are mundane–the ladybugs that have claimed our new house as their own, or a lunch smoothie, or a knitting photo for my Ravelry projects page–but that’s fine. Not every photo has to be an artistic masterpiece. None of them do. To be honest, I don’t think any of them really are. Photography is another item on the list of creative activities that bring me joy through the sheer act of creating, much like knitting or scrapbooking.
The last time I fed my sourdough starter, I decided to try my hand at timelapse photography. There were some hurdles–figuring out how the setting worked on my camera and the battery dying before I was able to finish capturing the growth cycle–but it was fun just to try. I already have so much in mind for my next attempt as far as improving my skills, but I’m still excited at my own effort.
As I branch out and push myself deeper into the arts that make me happy, I find myself being inspired by the following quote:
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”Samuel Beckett
(As it happens, this quote is also very on point as far as anti-racism work goes…)
Because there will always be failure, but it shouldn’t keep me–any of us–from trying something we thing seems interesting or fun. I don’t need to know everything or be perfect to practice photography or witchcraft, cooking or knitting, gardening or home decor. Theory is a good way to learn, but sometimes practice is the best–and practice includes failure.
There are few things I do anymore in an effort to make money or become some kind of professional–and even in my writing, money is far from my end game these days. Austin Kleon has written some great words (and linked to others’ great words) regarding monetizing hobbies, and I recommend reading them. I’m grateful to have started shifting my mindset to focus more on hobbies for the sake of my soul rather than my wallet. (No shade to anyone whose hobby is also a side hustle, of course.)
Even with my plans to publish two books in the next year and a half–my essay collection and YA novel–I’ll be doing it all DIY just to put them out in the world. I don’t expect much if any return on investment. I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m doing these things because I love them, pure and simple.