From the moment I saw this adorable little boy and held him in my arms I suspected I’d be returning for him the next day and that our first adventure together would be the long journey home. Within half an hour I knew. How could I say no to those sweet brown eyes, tiny paws and wagging tail when he decided the best place to sit was by my feet?
The next morning I knew my life wouldn’t be the same again. He snuggled with his toy and blanket with his mum’s scent on it and slept for almost the entire nine hours home. He had a few sips of water and a small amount of dry food every time we stopped but it never seemed to be toilet time.
He cried when we were an hour and a half from home, but every time we stopped and I let him out of the car… nothing! Just as we got to a stretch of road where there wasn’t enough room to stop, his crying intensified. He kept crying even after I stopped and opened his pet carrier and before long my eyes got teary knowing this was the end for his special blanket.
Despite his special blanket going in the washing machine as soon as we got home, he did manage to get a lot of sleep the first night away from his mum, and even managed to enjoy his first sleep over away from his new human mum only 2 weeks later. I realised just how much he had stolen my heart when I lay in bed that first night away from him and missed hearing him snoring on the floor next to my bed.
Welcoming a puppy into my life not only brought with it frequent 4am wake ups, but it also seemed to change my vocabulary. My most frequently used words and phrases have been reduced to eat your breakfast; that’s not a toy; go potty; outside; sit; drop; bedtime; oh my goodness… you are so cute; good boy; no; naughty boy; here’s a toy to chew on; you’re so lucky – you’re going to puppy preschool tonight to play with Jimmy, April, Kellogg, Ollie and Indie; if you’re a good boy I’ll bring you something good from the shops; and don’t you like Royal Canin food?
Then there were the times he made it clear that as far as he’s concerned, “here’s a toy to chew on” means “bite me”, “I need to dry your ears” is synonymous with “I’m trying to murder you” and “go potty” is an invitation to eat leaves.
Even more disturbing are my changed Youtube viewing habits. Who has time for Ted Forbes, Peter McKinnon and Jared Polin when Kikopup and Zack George’s Dog Training Revolution have taken over? And why read camera and lens specifications and reviews when you can read dog food reviews and ingredient lists instead?
Worst of all, I haven’t just stopped watching photography related videos, I also haven’t made a point of taking any landscape photos in more than 2 and a half months if I don’t include the couple of minutes I stopped to photograph a huge cloud of dust on the journey home with my little canine friend. It’s not the first time I’ve had a break from landscape photography and I’m far from the only person who has ever feared having lost their passion for photography. Nearly everyone goes through it sometimes and most people eventually pick up their camera again.
Sometimes life changes and it’s only to be expected that priorities might change for a while. People adopt puppies, they start new jobs, move house, have children, get sick or one of their family members gets sick. Or in the case of the two young women I previously discussed landscape photography with the most, one has recently moved from a small country town in South Australia to Sydney and the other took up boxing and has succeeded at it beyond her wildest dreams and is inspiring me to start taking my fitness more seriously. But I have no doubt that they too will take a lot of landscape photos again when the time is right.
Life isn’t all about photography and buying expensive gear. Photography is merely a tool for seeing the world through different eyes and spotting the beauty in even the most mundane things and showing that beauty to others. Sometimes it’s better to just enjoy the beauty around you without having to capture photos of it. Enjoy running around the backyard playing games with your dog or your children while you admire the sky above your roof lit up with a beautiful sunset. Spend more time patting and cuddling your puppy than taking photos of him or her. Leave your camera at home on a warm night so you can swim in the sea. Play a sport instead of standing on the sidelines taking action shots. Go on holidays and spend more time communicating with the locals and less time taking photos – unless you’re going to Iceland that is! Not having landscape photography on the brain in Iceland would be almost sacrilege!
But if having some down time from landscape photography really bothers you and you’re starting to worry about whether your interest in it will ever return, there’s a fair chance it won’t be long before you pick up your camera and take some of your best shots. Every time I’ve taken a break from it I’ve returned and taken better images than I ever had before. If you’d truly reached the end of the road with your photography you probably wouldn’t even be thinking about it. And like Ansel Adams said, “Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” So if you’ve taken at least 6 photos so far this year that are representative of your best work, then don’t worry about it. Maybe you’re just tired and need to rest. Maybe you need to do something different for a while – write, bake, read, get more exercise, play a musical instrument or do whatever else you used to do before photography claimed all your free time. Or maybe it’s just time to try a different genre of photography.
I know it’s counter-intuitive to take a break because it’s so easy to buy into the hype about how often you should be posting new content on your social media business and/or artist accounts to build an audience but it’s really not that important. Enjoying photography for its own sake, getting out in nature and talking photos that are personally meaningful to you is far more important.
In my case, the small sacrifices of going through the puppy stage and temporarily taking time out from landscape photography are rewarded daily when I see the sweet boy’s excitement when I pat his gorgeous head when I get home. His kind little heart is also evident from the gentle way he treats all his soft toys like they are precious commodities he wouldn’t dream of destroying. And with his 3rd vaccination only a week away, the wait to take him on fun photography adventures is almost over!