Busy, Huh, (Good God), What Is It Good For?

I read a recent opinion piece in the NY Times about one father’s goal to teach his kid to be lazy. Not only productive. To stop and savor life. To enjoy the small moments. I liked it. I enjoyed his writing about not just being a worker bee, but stopping to enjoy smelling the flower before returning back to the hive.

The Art of Lazy Living

Or something like that. I know in the past, as a commercial and editorial photographer working as a freelancer, which means I don’t have one steady employer, I am always looking for new clients and working to deliver for the ones I have.

In the past two years, many of the events that I would produce photos of for them have not been made, as the events they usually have were canceled due to the pandemic. There have been lean times.

And it affected everyone in my industry. Yet when you ask a professional photographer how’s business, they all say, “Really busy.” It’s an expected answer from a working pro and no one wants to be seen a lessor to the others. “I’m just as busy as the next guy, you better believe it,” is the message. It’s an automatic response.

Me, I’m not that busy. I have some shoots I’ve picked up, some one-off photo assignments that I’ve delivered, and I spend a lot of my time soliciting new potential clients. It’s a tough business. and more business than photographing, that’s for sure.

But I’m really not that busy. I’ve lost jobs to other photographers because clients I’ve met said they saw my work and assumed I would be too busy for them. I tell them, “No, not at all. Try me.” I have work, but I’m not overextended. I’m not that busy.

Which you’re never supposed to admit. But I always think about how much do I need to work and need to make versus how much can I make? I don’t want to work an 80-hour week to pay for a $800k house. I don’t need an $800k house.

The author of that article explained how it’s important to not be a Victorian era throwback, believing that productivity is the only measure of a man’s wealth.

I consider time a quite valuable thing, and when I’m not working, I figure some days I’m working for time, not money, like on those days that are open, nothing scheduled. Time is a gift. I use it to make photographs. To work on projects. I fill my time with things that fulfill me.

No one has any more hours in a day than we do. And what we get to do with them, that’s as much as a gift as that big paycheck, that list of accomplishments from a long day of productivity.

I have time for me.

And probably some for you. What are you working on?

3 thoughts on “Busy, Huh, (Good God), What Is It Good For?

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  1. I love this! I also try to follow this. I was listening to a podcast guy I like one time, and he told this little story. He got picked up by and Uber driver, and the guy said, “So, you having a crazy day?” Our hero (Merlin Mann) suggested that he structured his life and career to not have crazy days generally speaking (we all have a couple). We’re right there with him, KW.


  2. Hello Ken,
    As I am reading this I’m enjoying a very leisurly time on a vacation, but I know that at soon as this time ends, the daily demands of a hectic life will surround me again. Being a dad, to an 8 year old, and the daily chores of home leave me with no real estate on my schedule for genuine me-time. When this time will end, I need to become creative with reclaiming my time and saying ‘no’ to things in creative ways: delegating, procrastinating, compressing, multitasking.

    I want to really strive to the ideals you explain, of unbusying myself and making time for, lets say, meditation, journalling, building human bonds with friends and family, but even when I can say I’m not that busy, everyone around me is always busy and innundated with stuff they need to do (allegedly).

    And yes I feel a bit uneasy advertising the fact that I’m not very busy (when in fact I have gotten a good handle on my routines), because I’m afraid it may sound like I’m the only one who is wasteful with my time.

    It was interesting that you mentioned that people already assumed, from the calibre of work that you put out, that you must be a very busy photographer and in realty you would wish they had approached you at the time. I, unfortunately, lack the self-awareness to know that the same is going on with me, not just with photography, but with life in general.

    I don’t do any paid photography work but am genuinely interested in photography as an enhusiast, and am very much invested in documenting my life and family and especially my kid growing up, I had one offer to shoot a wedding once from a family acquaintance and I chickened out on it and said that a wedding is a big occasion and I don’t feel that I’ll be able to do justice with the work I will do in documenting it. If I don’t take good shots, it will hang over me for ever. Maybe at some point I’ll build enough confidence in myself to shoot such events and make a success of it.

    Thanks for the lovely post as always.


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