Weekend shoots, home studios, long hours — if ever there was an industry where the line between work and life is continuously blurred, it’s photography. We need to find creative ways to save ourselves time, avoid burning out, and remain passionate about our craft. Work-life balance has a different meaning for everyone, and when you’re sitting under a pile of work, it can be hard to keep yourself motivated. Pre-Covid, we talked to three busy photographers about how they beat photographer fatigue and ensure their lives still feel like their own. Each has their own very unique take on balancing life as a photographer with family, expectations, and running a business. Their advice feels even more relevant now as we push ourselves in an attempt to return to some normalcy in a nearly-post-Covid world.
“I have three awesome kids… but they’re like a freaking nightmare!”
Fer Juaristi works from home; he’s a self-described “full-time dad” who carves time out of his busy days by simply shutting his computer at 3 pm. That’s his time. It’s the time he needs to be with his wife and kids. It’s not easy, there’s always a lot going on, but by insisting on that deadline, you force yourself to be more productive during the day, to not sweat the small stuff or obsess over details no one will notice.
Fer strives to empower his children, showing them that they can do whatever they want and that he enjoys his work. For him, it’s necessary to have tools that save him time, make his job easier, and allow him to spend his afternoons with his family. Everything, from the software he uses and the camera he’s most comfortable using, to his workflow is optimized to allow him that opportunity to close the computer at 3 pm. It’s about finding the right processes, the best setup, and a system that works for you.
Fer talks in-depth about balancing chaos (a.k.a. work and life under one roof) in a short interview here:
As a documentary photographer, Kirsten Lewis sees families battling every day to achieve work-life balance. She strives to give a voice to parents who feel as if they aren’t seen or heard, to let them know that they aren’t alone. There’s an expectation that parents who are also entrepreneurs or have careers will “figure things out.”
Kirsten bluntly calls work-life balance a myth—an impossible pressure that we put on ourselves and others. Instead, she prefers to focus on shifting the balance, prioritizing her life over her work. She seeks out passion projects that fuel her creative spirit and aims to let all expectations go. While it may sound counter-intuitive, Kirsten says that her passion projects allow her to shoot for herself, taking photos that she is personally resonating with rather than merely shooting what she believes her clients might want. This shift has transferred to her professional projects, and her work is stronger for it. Today she delivers fewer images, focussing on the aspects of her clients’ lives that interest her the most. In doing so, Kirsten ensures that she is enjoying her professional shoots as much as her passion projects.
We spent time on location during one of Kirsten’s recent passion projects to see how the special people she shoots help her stay motivated and fulfilled as a photographer.
Balancing a full-time photography business with homeschooling three young children is never going to be an easy feat. For Phillip and Eileen Blume, finding harmony between their work as photographers while being present as parents is something they’re striving towards.
“It’s not something you can achieve one time, and that’s it. You have to constantly work at it.”
The Blumes take great care to select each project they take on carefully. Rather than saying yes to every opportunity that comes their way, they’ll evaluate whether it lines up with their values. By saying no to projects that don’t fit with their overall vision of their business, they’re allowing themselves the opportunity to say yes when the right projects do come along. It’s a methodology they apply to their passion projects as much as their professional ones. This process ensures that every aspect of their work is something they enjoy—it’s work that enhances their life, rather than distracts from it.
“Work-life balance is so much more than a scale—you’re not just earning your vacation time.”
You can’t go through life waiting for your next holiday; you need to love your work as much as you enjoy time away from it—only then will you have found your own balance. Seek projects, and subjects that engage you, that spark creative joy, and those that leave you feeling fulfilled.
We spent a day on set with the Blumes to see how they balance their three energetic children with running a full-time photography studio. You can watch the full film here.
If anyone understands the pressure photographers face to maintain a life outside of their work (let alone finding a balance between the two), it’s Pixellu co-founders Daniel Usenko and Alex Prykhodko. Pixellu was born when, faced with the challenges of long hours and endless tasks, Daniel and Alex began asking themselves, “How can we save valuable time, make more money, and get our lives back?”
Whether you find a balance by deliberately setting time aside for yourself, by taking on passion projects that keep you motivated, or by working closely with those in your life you love the most, balance looks different for everyone. We hope that by sharing stories from our community, we might inspire other photographers to seek a better balance, more fulfillment, and more joy from this profession. After all, our industry is more vibrant for it.