Day 90 – Photography Lost Focus

by Dan


Today’s Daily Act Of Simplification is a big one. Not in terms of effort, but by virtue of the fact that it is challenging who I consider myself to be.

I subscribe wholeheartedly to the Franklin Covey method of life planning. In it, you plan your time by reviewing your “roles” and “goals” on a regular basis and allocating yourself tasks to move you in the direction of your goals, and to ensure you are performing brilliantly in your roles (I’ll write more about this method, and how I do it in a simple way in due course). This process starts with understanding your roles and goals. I did this a couple of year’s back, have a list of each, and review them daily to ensure that the tasks on my to-do list are the ones that will create maximum value to my life.

On my roles list is the identity of “photographer”. I’ve considered myself to be a photographer for about 10 years, and have derived a huge amount of pleasure from it. I’ve successively upgraded my camera gear, and now have pro-level kit. I’ve taken landscape photos which have pride of place on various people’s walls on large canvases, and have created happy memories for friends at their weddings on a number of occasions.

Somewhere in the dim and distant past I remember reading an article that asked the question “how do you know that you are a photographer rather than just someone who takes photos?” The answer was along the lines of “If you think about photography when you are not doing it then you are a photographer”. I’ve used that as a yardstick for most of the roles that I have chosen for myself.

Lately I have noticed something. I’ve stopped thinking about photography when I am not doing it. I also can’t remember the last time I went out with the sole intention of “doing photography”. Also, I can remember a number of times recently when I’ve been out and about, not intending to take pictures, and wished I had a camera on me to capture something fun or interesting. I didn’t have a camera on me because my pro kit is so big and bulky that I don’t carry it around on the off chance. On a recent two-week holiday, I took a total of about a dozen photos. Something was seriously wrong!

Having noticed this, it is time to ask the zero-based thinking question. The question needs tweaking slightly in this case though. If I ask the standard “Knowing what I now know, would I have gotten into this in the first place?”, the answer would be a big “yes” because I have enjoyed so much fulfilment from it in the past. However, if I ask it like this – “If I was rewriting my roles list from scratch today, would I list photographer as one of them?”, the answer is sadly “no”.


Wow – its out there and I am already feeling a sense of loss and, weirdly, GRIEF at the decision! Let’s spin this back to positive quick smart!!

I do want to take pictures, but I want to do so as a normal person would, capturing the events of their life in a fun and informal way. With a pocket-sized, simple camera, always at the ready to record memories and share socially with friends. I want rid of my prohibitive, bulky, pro camera gear and not feel guilty that I’m not taking photos. By removing “photographer” from my roles list, I could actually take MORE pictures, and get MORE enjoyment from it. I just won’t be thinking about it when i am not doing it, and won’t be going out with the sole intention of “doing photography”.

Also nothing is permanent except change itself. There is nothing stopping me from adding that personal identity back in later in life, perhaps when I retire or the motivation kicks back in again. Right here, right now though, I feel unburdened, freer and excited about the future. Once I’ve sold my pro gear, I can go small camera shopping (yay!) and will return some money to my bank account into the bargain.

With a small camera in my pocket, no self-imposed pressure to use it, and one less role to review each day, this BIG decision will have a big simplifying effect!