Burn out...or just too easy?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by DanGuy48, Dec 15, 2015.

  1. DanGuy48

    DanGuy48 Mu-43 Regular

    I got an e-mail from this site about an app and figured I'd check in again...been away for a while. Before I retired, my wife and I both bought GH2s and a variety of lenses and accessories. I have been doing photography, both as a hobby and for work, off and on since the early 70s (yes, I'm a geezer).

    At the peak of my interest, I had a Linhof Kardan 4x5, two old Leicas (two IIIFs and a few lenses) and a big Konica system, 4 bodies, bunch of lenses, etc. These were all film camera of course. I remember spending hours and hours in the darkroom and I seem to remember that it was something I liked.

    Now, I snap a lot of pictures, but I don't do anything with them. I sometimes go back and look through them on my computer but I don't work on them, print them, catalog them, or anything else, I just accumulate them. Here my long time hobby has become easier than ever and I can't seem to find any real enjoyment in it.

    Has anyone else experienced this? I think maybe my job literally burned me out. When I was working, all I could think about was the things I wanted to do if I only had the time. Now I'm retired (as of October 2012) and I really just don't want to do a damn thing. I can't figure out if I miss the old darkroom days (and I can't go back, I became allergic to fixer) or if I'm still in the throws of burn out. Has anyone else found the digital age of photography to be missing something?
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  2. EricRose

    EricRose Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 2, 2014
    The upper 12
    Real Name:
    Eric Rose
    Like my dad use to say it's hard to overcome the inertia of doing nothing. I find I have become burned out with digital photography and have started using my film cameras again for personal work. Digi stuff is mandatory for professional work.
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  3. davdenic

    davdenic Mu-43 Regular

    Oct 14, 2014
    Real Name:
    David D.
    I never used a darkroom but I spend the same time and passion on the pc in that is called Lightroom.
    Hours and hours cataloging, adjusting, editing and publishing my bests on Flickr or on this great forum. Discussing with other passionate guys all around the world.
    Planning the new trip to shot new subjects.
    learning new things.
    Passion sometimes could sleep but when it wake up you have to follow her

    Sent by HAL 9000
  4. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    You can still work with film, btw. It's still around.

    You might also want to consider some counseling, as the transition to retirement isn't always easy after a very focused life.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
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  5. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 6, 2013
    Real Name:
    I never used darkroom either, but I really enjoy lightroom and posting on various sites and doing the challenges here. I also recently got a printer and find the art of getting from digital to print, mounting, matting to be a lot of fun and hoping to start selling prints soon and/or displaying in local places. I also do some freelance, which helps justify paying for this equipment and have picked up more work lately than ever. Sometimes I just make small goals and experiment with new techniques (live composite, long exp, double exp, black/white, macro etc...)..>Most recent was doing the annual dog Xmas photo for cards. I just don't have enough free time/energy as I'd like to do it all. Work sucks the life out of me.

    Have you considered doing art shows to sell prints? or hanging work in coffee shops/restaurants or businesses. Gives you something to do, plan, meet people, raise your standards and the satisfaction of making some money from your hobby.
  6. Jfrader

    Jfrader Guest

    After retiring, I too felt some burn-out. It was hard to get out and shoot or do other things. You figure you will now have the time to do all the things you didn't have time for only to not have the inclination once you have the time. Frustrating. I dealt with it by traveling more and volunteering to do photos for some community groups - theater, zoo, schools, etc. That got the juices flowing and I got the drive back to actually do art photos again and showing or selling a few. Having "customers" for my photos gave me the push I needed to actually fire up Photoshop and finish the images to what I consider my standards. I just don't like giving people less than my best.

    The other thing that helped me was "adopting" a few nearby popular photo areas and challenging myself to come up with better images than I had ever done before. I live within a couple of hours of Yosemite and 3 hours from Monterey so those are my challenge areas. With a senior national park pass, I can visit as often as I want, whenever I want so I have been up the hill to Yosemite several dozen times in the last couple of years, trying to find something new.

    When I travel, I write a "photo-blog" and e-mail it back to friends and family to rave reviews. They love getting select photos and commentary from the places they have never been and to hear what "Uncle Jim" is up to now. If I try to cut down on the postings I get complaints. That energizes me to try for even better travel photos.

    You just have to find something to get yourself moving and the rest should follow. Just don't veg out completely as that is not the way to "enjoy your retirement." Invest in Photoshop Elements or Lightroom and start "developing" all those images you take into something you will be proud to share.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2015
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  7. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    Well, it appears the OP made a living off his gear, so I'm not surprised he is burnt out.

    Photography has always been a hobby for me, and I still enjoy thowing money at it and spending time on it. After I retired, I spent more time on it.
  8. janneman

    janneman Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 6, 2012
    Real Name:
    Jan (John) Kusters
    Hmmm, i don't miss coughing up fixer with every cold I get. Even though I sometimes miss the dark room. I once even contemplated hanging a dark room light next to my computer for sentimental reasons. But I kept diaries... I sometimes liked dark room work, but I can read back how often I just did it because it had to be done. I never liked processing film anyway...
    But truth be told, I am happy now. A few things that helped me to regain joy in photography:
    • Learning photoshop and being able to burn, dodge and retouch (better than ever) again.
    • Starting to take pictures with black and white conversion in mind. I knew this, but had forgotten: I LIKE BLACK AND WHITE!
    • ordering prints to frame and hang on the wall (not bothering to do the printing myself)
    • making photobooks
    Once I started to take the camera with me on my daily walks, things started to work again. Now, after 2 years, I am a bit done with taking photo's on my daily walks, and I find myself looking for places to go to take pictures... Hey, this is getting better!
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  9. exakta

    exakta Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 2, 2015
    When I shot film, I had to go into the darkroom just to see the images.

    With digital, I have never gotten into post processing at all...not even cropping! I'm very much a "JPEG out of the camera" user.

    I'm not sure why, but I'm sure it's psychological. Post-processing definitely doesn't have the same feeling as being in a darkroom! I have only printed a handful of digital images, certainly everyone is so used to seeing images on a screen that there's less of a need for prints.
  10. Hobbies and interests do come and go. Been going through this with my other long term interest..amateur radio. On the other hand, my photography took a real shot in the arm when I committed to m4/3 last year. It's not unnatural..and not unlike certain other kinds of relationships. Trying to fix this situation may actually require just letting it go for a bit..although it sounds like you've already done that. Also sounds like you need to find a reason to take pictures..a need for them. And that's very understandable. First thing to try is making them available for viewing..get a web gallery up and running for your best images. Then look for places that "need" your images...local newspapers and magazines, whatever. Get in touch with the editor and let them know you've got images they may want. This is exactly what I did 9 months ago and it's been working out. People need images...just gotta find them, because some get tired of the poor cell phone pics and need something better. I started getting some shots of a local dance group this summer while they were doing an outdoor performance. The woman that ran the group expressed some interest in the shots and, after processing and posting them, they took a lot of hits. I supplied her graphics person with one of the images to use for the marquee/poster for an upcoming event. And that led to more shooting. The opportunities are usually out there..just gotta dig them up. But see, this is the kind of thing that will put a little hitch in your giddyup.
  11. fransglans

    fransglans Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 12, 2012
    Real Name:
    switch hobby for awhile. Thats what I do when I get sick of it...
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  12. DanGuy48

    DanGuy48 Mu-43 Regular

    Thanks all...some good info here. I feel like I am just burning the candle right now. I have been concentrating a bit more on one other hobby...well, working a part time job involving it, but I seem to be having the same issues there, even though I'm at work and have every opportunity to indulge, I just want to be back home with the wife and cats. I suspect I'm still in a burnout phase.
  13. GBarrington

    GBarrington Mu-43 Veteran

    You retired a month after I did at the age of 62. I went through a phase for about a year where I was at a loss at what to do with my time. No one will ever tell you this, but retirement is likely the hardest thing you'll ever do.

    I even went to work at a local grocery store for about 6 months before I realized masochism wasn't for me. (I don't care how nice you think you are to shop clerks, you aren't NEARLY nice enough!). I seemed to work through it after about 2 years though.

    For me, photography was my ticket out my disorientation. I had been involved with photography since I was 12 years old. I was a photographer in the USAF and a professional photographer for several years before I got married and had to grow up!

    I drifted away from photography, and went into the computer business, but got back involved with it once digital became more common around the year 2002 or so. Even then it was on the back burner, but once I retired, Photography saved my sanity, maybe my life.

    For me, I dove into digital photography. The truth is most of the stuff I 'knew' about film photography doesn't really apply all THAT well to digital photography, I believe it is a separate medium from film photography with a superficial resemblance. Once I realized that, I dove into digital, trying to learn everything I could. I started a blog on photography (below, see a sample of my writing), got involved with local photography groups. That emotional 'burnout' you describe slowly faded away.

    I can't guarantee that photography is your ticket out of that retirement depression you are feeling, everyone is different, but it was what I needed. The thing is, you need to FORCE yourself to fake enthusiasm for something or a series of somethings, until something catches. Dale Carnegie was right, if you ACT enthusiastic, eventually you will BE enthusiastic.

    If you ever need to talk about this, feel free to message me!

    A sample of my blog authorship:
    Glen Barrington - My Dynamic Range: Maximizing Dynamic Range with ACDSee Pro 8
  14. PeeBee

    PeeBee Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 17, 2012
    Hush guys, I've only 6080 days until I retire and I'm counting every one. Don't take my dreams :shakehead::(:shakehead:
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  15. GBarrington

    GBarrington Mu-43 Veteran

    16 years of planning for retirement over and above the financial considerations is just about right!
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  16. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sometimes travel is the best way for me to get excited about photography. After a while in this hobby, you start to feel like you have your local area all photographed out.

    Book a trip?
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  17. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    A trip is usually the best way to do it, I think. Really gets you excited about what you're seeing and creating.

    But I find that time off work is sometimes hard to find, and trips are expensive, so for amateurs like me newly acquainted with interchangeable lens photography, a new piece of gear is sometimes an exciting way to shake off the rust. Usually for this to work it needs to be something that really unlocks new capabilities that you haven't had the opportunity to explore before - something ultrawide, ultrafast, ultra tele, macro, etc...

    But I'm also getting into film for that reason. Though I have literally zero interest at this point in the darkroom. I contemplated it briefly, and then realized that the start-up costs are as much as developing dozens of rolls of film, and the chances of screwing something up for no benefit are much higher. I will be doing my own digitizing of negatives, though. That's something with high costs and really no quality advantage for having done professionally...
  18. EricRose

    EricRose Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 2, 2014
    The upper 12
    Real Name:
    Eric Rose
    One thing I did over 10 years ago was start a local photography group. It's a large format film group but over the years we have embraced all forms of photography. We meet once a month and have themes etc. I want to stress this is a group of like minded people NOT a club. We have both male and female participants and quite like getting together on weekends for hiking, street photography or just going for coffee or a beer. Our meetings are usually 25% photography and the rest is just shooting the s%$t.

    So the point is, maybe try starting a group of some sort. Or join one. Once you get some new friends things will start to happen. You will have a renewed interest in getting out of the house.

    Many moons ago when I gave up my commercial photography business (the first time lol) I did so because I was totally burned out. I didn't pick up a camera except to take family pics and the odd vacation snap for three years. I happened to be in the local library one evening and drifted over to the photography section. There I found a book by Bruce Barnbaum featuring exquisite B&W large format images of English church interiors. They spoke to me, loudly, and those images got my photographic creative juices flowing once again. That was many years ago and since that library experience Bruce and I have become good friends and have wandered the woods together.

    I call myself semi-retired as I have my own business and just take on the clients I want to deal with and only work the projects I feel comfortable doing. It keeps the mind active and gives me a reason to get going every morning. Like you I tried the retail thing for awhile, in my case Home Depot, but they slotted me into management very quickly and that is not what I wanted to do. Been there, done that and got paid a lot more money for it. Working at HD was always a retirement bucket list thing of mine. The associates were wonderful and the customers for the most part fun to deal with.

    Hopefully my rather rambling comments might give you a bit of a inkling of what might get you going. Just remember your couch and the TV are not your friend.
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  19. jimr.pdx

    jimr.pdx Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 5, 2010
    near Longview ~1hr from PDX
    Real Name:
    Jim R
    I retired young but my even-younger wife needed a caregiver. I was doing a poor job of both caregiver and office-worker & she won :) I've no regrets but hobbies have all suffered greatly. We met under the stars by my large telescope, but since 2010 we've attended no star parties. Golf clubs are rusting in the garage.. well oxidising, whatever exotic metal. We moved to a new home: planned it in August 2013, moved 11 months later, still not unpacked! And photography is much more gear-swapping than real shooting - I've gone through nearly every Pentax model from K100d to K-5 IIs before the G7 caught my attention. Don't ask how many lenses I've owned, nor how many of a specific copy!! :eek:

    So burnout for me is a complete lack of time and/or attention to getting 'the shot' right. I keep dabbling and plan to get back into it 'any day now', but in the meantime it's in maintenance mode. Like everything else in life except death (maybe taxes?), burnout itself is temporary, more like a phoenix that will return from ruin and regain its promise. How long though? Sure wish I knew that answer o_O
  20. DanGuy48

    DanGuy48 Mu-43 Regular

    Yeah, how long...that seems to be the question. I was at a cruise in (another past time, not really up to hobby level) sometime in 2013 talking with an older (than me!) fellow. He said that he went through a similar thing when he retired and that it takes a while to get over it. He said it was only about 2 years ago that he felt he was really getting interested in things again. I asked him when he retired and he said 1992, Ha! I hope I live that long and that I don't have to wait that long to get bit by something again.
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