I am a full time hobbyist photographer.

But don’t stop reading just yet, even if you’re a working photographer actively taking clients. I wrote this for you too. 🙂

My job as a hobbyist may not be to go out and photograph other people’s families, but it is to photograph my own family and the things that speak to me. And I am guessing that those of you that earn an income as a photographer or work in another field or career outside your home, also want that for yourself.

“Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. what you have caught on film is captured forever. It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” – Aaron Siskind

That quote resonates with me. Does it with you?

Are you wondering why I refer to photography as my ‘job’? That’s easy. I feel I was called to do this. To be the STORYTELLER of our life.  To document the real moments, the tender and quiet, and the bold and chaotic.

boys playing on bed with their dad photo by Celeste Pavlik

An important part of my photography is being able to shoot regularly and to capture the stories that create our life. Even if I take just one or a few photos each day or each week, when they tell the story I want to remember and share with others, that’s when I feel I’m achieving success in my work.

“Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life.’ – Unknown

boy sitting in chair pic by Celeste Pavlik

But, finding the time to shoot, and shooting often isn’t always so easy when you’re busy. I’m guessing like me, at some point you have found yourself wondering when you will actually find the time to take pictures again. With four boys between 5 – 8 years old (triplets + 1!), I have a reasonably firm day-to-day routine and I kind of like it that way. I am a better wife and Mom when I have a schedule. I prefer to plan ahead; it helps me stay sane. Which means, that I will actually ‘pencil in’ shooting. I don’t always shoot daily but I nearly do. I used to beat myself up for not shooting everyday because I know the improvement and growth that’s made when shooting daily, and hopefully I will get back to that again someday. But for now, I had to let go of that a little bit and be happy with being able to incorporate it on a semi-regular basis.

I want to capture them, and me, through ALL SEASONS of our lives, figuratively and literally.

kid writing picture by Celeste Pavlik
child covered in water photograph by Celeste Pavlik

As a hobbyist photographer, whether or not anyone else ever sees those photos isn’t really the point; the point for me is exactly what Aaron Siskind said, to remember the little things long after I have forgotten everything.

So how do you achieve that balance?

Here are a few tips about how I balance shooting for me while still living my life and doing the other things that are part of being who I am as a wife, mother, daughter and friend. I believe any photographer can find that balance and incorporate ‘almost daily’ shooting in to their life.

1. Schedule It.

If you get nothing out of reading this, this is the most important one. Schedule a Time! As I mentioned above, plan to shoot. Pencil it in on your calendar, or set a timer on your smart phone. Make yourself take 5 minutes a day to shoot something. You will never regret it.

2. Have your gear ready.

Keep your camera and your gear accessible and easy to reach. I have to keep my gear out of reach of curious little hands, so I keep mine in a child proof cabinet just next to the pantry. We spend most of our time in the kitchen, breakfast nook, and family room so that location allows me to easily grab it when I stumble across a scene I want to capture quickly. In the morning, beautiful light shines through our blinds. I know that I could shoot in this area of my home daily if I make the time to do so. I want to capture not only that pretty light but what it is that my boys or one of them are doing at that moment. So having the camera nearby is an easy way to be able to quickly freeze that moment in time.

portrait of boy by Celeste Pavlik

3. Prepare your settings.

Think about the lens and settings you most often use inside of your home and then keep that lens on your camera and adjust your settings (white balance, ISO, shutter speed, and aperture) where you typically shoot at. That way you aren’t fumbling with settings in order to quickly grab a shot in the moment.

4. Be spontaneous!

When your child comes in and shows you the flowers he picked for you, take the picture.

boy holding flowers pic by Celeste Pavlik

5. Shoot with no fear.

No posing required. Shoot for you. Don’t worry about being perfect all.the.time. I have always been a technical shooter yet the more I allow myself to shoot with my heart and not worry as much about everything being perfect the easier it is to pick up the camera and shoot and in the end I often find myself in love with the perfectly flawed pictures.

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” – Joseph Chilton Pearce

black and white photo of child toes by Celeste Pavlik

6. Become a shooting sleuth.

What I mean is, take photos when it’s convenient for you without making your subjects pose for you. Some of my favorite pictures are those where my children didn’t even know or forgot I was there.

boys taking a bath photograph by Celeste Pavlik
child playing on an electronic device pic by Celeste Pavlik

7. Explore your home inside and out.

You may have seen my 3 minute garage light tutorial that literally took me just a few minutes to capture simple portraits of my boys. The only thing I ‘planned’ for that day was to take a few minutes and do it. I set a reminder on my iPhone and grabbed a kid!

portrait of boy looking at camera by Celeste Pavlik

8. Plan an activity.

Get them involved in an activity that takes place in pretty light (move the activity if you have to)! Here I simply asked them to hang out and talk to each other and then I anticipated the moments I wanted to capture. These will probably hang in my home forever.

triplets laughing picture by Celeste Pavlik

Just because you are passionate about photography doesn’t mean that you always have the time to do elaborate photo sessions. But you don’t have to have a lot of time. It’s fairly simple to find a balance to incorporate short photo sessions into your routine.

There’s nothing like taking 5 minutes here and there and capturing a little piece of your day. Schedule a time, write it down, set a reminder on your phone, and then stick to it. Make the time to pick up your camera, because whether you shoot digital, film, a point and shoot, or even a smart phone – making time on a regular basis will help you continue the reason you probably started out on this journey of photography. I challenge you to take 5 minutes today and shoot something that speaks to you!