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Photography

3 Tips for Setting Boundaries to Avoid Burnout in Photography

Whether you’re a professional photographer or a hobbyist, there have likely been times when you’ve felt ready to throw in the towel and quit photography forever. Those feelings are normal and are usually the result of added stress from things like a looming deadline or a project that you don’t feel prepared to tackle.

Often, once the added stress subsides, so does the desire to quit photography. However, if that stress becomes chronic it can cause physical, emotional, and mental burnout that’s much more difficult to bounce back from.

One of the most effective things that photographers of all levels can do to prevent and avoid burnout is to set appropriate boundaries. In this article, we’ll discuss a few different boundaries that you may want to consider setting now in order to protect yourself from future burnout.

1. Set Office Hours

Between smartphones and wi-fi access, it’s easy to be available all the time. It’s easy to respond to a quick text while you’re on vacation. Replying to a midnight email when you’re already awake doesn’t seem like a big deal.

On one hand, being accessible to your clients (whether paid or unpaid) can make them feel appreciated and enhance the client experience. On the other hand, it can also lead to exhaustion and burnout because it always feels like you’re “on duty”.

It’s actually okay not to be available 24/7. In fact, it’s more than just okay. Setting boundaries in terms of availability is crucial to a healthy balance between your work and your personal life.

2. Build in Downtime

I know as well as anyone that it can be really difficult to build downtime into your schedule because doing so often feels like you’re either losing opportunities or income. However, when you’re very busy with photography, it’s important to remember to schedule two kinds of downtime in order to prevent burnout – processing time, and days off.

In the spring, summer, and fall, it can be tempting to book photo sessions every night and weekend. It’s not a bad thing to fill your schedule, but don’t forget that your work generally isn’t done once you leave the session itself. Most sessions require some degree of processing time, which could include everything from culling, editing, social media posts, communication with your clients, and arranging for delivery.

When you’re creating your calendar of availability, don’t forget to factor in all the time you’ll spend after the actual session itself and build in that processing time (or plan to outsource it) accordingly.

3. Communicate Your Timeline

Another small thing that can greatly reduce your stress and frustration is to communicate your timeline with your clients up front and let them know what they can expect in regards to receiving their images.

Make sure that this timeline is realistic. Factor in all scheduled sessions, your post-session processing time, and your scheduled downtime. By doing so, you’ll be able to give clients a more realistic timeline for receiving their images, while also decreasing the number of all-night editing sessions for you.

Do you have any other advice for setting boundaries to avoid burnout in photography? Have you experienced it? What did you do to prevent it from happening again?