I’m writing this blog because I think there are photographers out there who need to read it. Photographer burnout can be a silent struggle because it’s something we’re often afraid to admit to or talk about.
For the last two years, we have lived in a time of pandemic and social change. We are still living through it now. A lot of photographers are picking up the pieces of their shattered businesses. Feeling like they’re fighting a war against the immense inflation our society is currently experiencing. Exhausted from spending loads of time on social media.
With all of these life-altering events happening it feels like the photography industry- especially the wedding photography industry- has twisted and turned upside down too.
What does photographer burnout look like?
If you’re doing any of the following, you might be experiencing photographer burnout:
- Saying yes to everyone and everything
- Constantly working every day
- Measuring your worth by the hours you put in
- Overfocusing on social media
- Missing your editing deadlines
- believing the only way to succeed is to hustle harder
- Feeling physically and emotionally exhausted
Photographer burnout is a rough cycle.
It often starts by saying yes to everything because we’re afraid of the consequences if we say no. This leads to non-stop work, feeling guilty when not working, missed deadlines, decreased productivity, and the constant need to take on more, because you really believe this cycle of burnout is the way to get successful.
Isn’t this how all photographers get successful? Overbook themselves, get really popular, and live happily ever after? No, it’s not. Overbooking and being popular don’t lead to success if you get burned out on the way there.
How do you step out of the photographer burnout cycle?
The first step is being aware of what you’re doing, and dealing with your fears. Specifically your fear to say no.
Your time is the most valuable thing you have. We constantly tell our clients this. Photographers say moments are precious. Moments only happen once.
Well, our own moments of our own life are precious too. If we give them all up by saying yes to everything, we’re left with very little time. So set some boundaries for yourself, and start saying no if a request crosses a boundary. Get some of your own moments back.
Give yourself a schedule with breathing room.
In a Facebook group for wedding photographers, I recently saw one person say they felt guilty for not shooting anything on a weekend. Photographers, you need to let go of this guilt and realize it’s okay not to book every weekend.
Break out of the shoot-edit-repeat routine. Give yourself rest so you can think clearly about what you want your business to be, and how you want your daily life to look.
Stop hustling. Focus on Serving.
Hustling will not give your customers a better experience. It will not help you get ahead.
As photographers, we constantly tell clients how professional photography takes time and dedication. When a photographer subscribes to hustle culture, they suddenly have a lot less time. This is when service starts to suffer, and photography burnout arrives.
Look at your entire business. Figure out what you need to do so you can get back to serving your clients successfully. Here are a few things that are helpful to think about:
- Can you adjust your packages so you can take fewer appointments, be less overwhelmed, and spend the right amount of time on your clients?
- Do you need a CRM to help you keep organized? I use Honeybook
- Could you hire an editor or social media assistant to lighten your workload?
- You could talk to a mentor when you feel stuck. Need a mentor? Contact me, I’m happy to help.
- Take a break. Be gentle with yourself. Schedule a few “No Work” days to be completely off (no email, no social media) for personal time and to refocus.
There’s hope for photographer burnout.
This blog will not magically fix everything for you. I hope it’s a starting point to spark change. Because you need to change things to stop being burned out. There’s no one “right” way to do it. This is your business and you’re in control of it.
Build yourself a business that’s right for your life. Allow yourself to have a life outside of your business. It really will make a difference in how you feel, and what you can accomplish- for yourself and for others.
**Disclaimer: I’m not a health professional. This blog is for information purposes only and is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For health concerns seek the help of a qualified health provider.
Some links in this post are affiliate links. I’m sharing them because I believe they are truly helpful resources.