More than a few of us wandering photographers (casual or dedicated) are not always travelling alone to catch that photo of our dreams. Could be there’s someone with us, maybe even that someone of our dreams.
Just like your photography life, it’s important to apply care and love to your OTHER life that you should be loving: Your romantic relationship (or partnership if you prefer).
I’ve been with Mrs Andy for 19 years and with camera in hand most of the time, however she hasn’t killed me yet and I hope these tips help you keep the “Better Half” happy while you’re chasing the shot.
If you want to talk about relationships, the starting point is to actually TALK and therefore communicate in the relationship.
I know: it’s scary to talk sometimes and certainly doesn’t always go smooth, but also scary are the price tags on your dream gear as well as how much couple time that you might suck up playing with said gear and time.
Since this is such a major cornerstone of being in any relationship (much less one with a camera or 5 involved) and for the other topics in this post, I’ll just point out where the communication will make the difference.
Seriously, talking it out will save you so much pain…
Every time you stop on holiday for a shot, spend time on the edit towards finishing that shot, or even the research and study around those add up to time that your partner may expect to spend with you… Not your love of the camera.
Holidays in particular tend to be a major test of this principle, basically the photographer (casual or otherwise) will want some shooting time in that exciting spot you’re taking rest at… And the non-photographer may not be too impressed with that prioritising of the downtime that’s supposed to be at least partly for each other as a couple.
Make sure you don’t get lost in the lens and DO spend time with your partner… or at least find the balance.
Treat time like money (worth triple the value if it’s precious holidays) and give back what you take wherever possible. It’s also well worth planning and defining photo time beyond casual shots on the go, next to that maybe do what me and the wife do: If the light and/or subject is especially worth chasing for a fat batch of photos, you talk to your partner (hello again communication!) and arrange to make up the time with them later.
At worst, split off and meet up later. Because while you should take an interest it their interest as much as they tolerate yours… They can probably enjoy checking that passion out on their own if you simply work it out as adults.
Hey photo-freak: That gear ain’t cheap and that lens that’s on sale for “only” 800 bucks… That’s still 800 bucks!
Obviously this is less of an issue if you’re a very casual photographer or the budget simply isn’t a problem, but for the rest of us it can be terrifying for the partner you’re possibly sharing your bank account with.
Here’s where communication (and perhaps a little compromise) comes in to save the day. Start with explaining why this particular bit of gear is worth the expense (quality and durability are two great points for value), and as far as compromise be ready to accept if your partner informs that the shared budget simply can’t afford it.
It’s not like you don’t have other options in the compromise side: 3rd party lenses are not a bad option at all, a “lesser” lens or a non-pro body might well still be more than you need (especially in the early days), and there’s always the option of second hand shopping or refurbished to keep the price tag from burning.
(On second-hand shopping: Consider offering up the old gear for sale so you can raise the funds for the new gear. Many camera shops do trade-in offers, otherwise see what a private sale can get you.)
The most important thing is again communication: Explain why that gear is something you want, listen to your partner regarding the realities of the financial situation, and work together towards finding a compromise that everyone can be happy with.
This is a big one, because it’ll be hardest to be considerate when you get that gear lust deep in your throat or you want to work a tripod down the beach when you’re supposed to be having that special dinner with your sweetheart.
Buying gear? See what I said about Money (above), and take it seriously. Maybe add in giving up some of the “fun money” towards offering the partner some shopping cash of their own, they probably deserve it for hearing all about the bokeh of your dream lens or the specs of that new flash that you’ll only use one every three months. 😉
Want to spend more time on your shooting and editing your photos, even if it’s work? Well then, next to the communication you’ll want to generously inject consideration into the mix: Plan photo time for when it interferes less with coupling time, figure out the best balance of sharing your passion/dedication for photography without smothering them or your relationship.
Basically don’t be selfish, it’s not exactly hard if it’s for someone you treasure enough to call yours.
Say Thank You!
Flowers, chocolates, lots of praise both spoken and written.
It never fails (and if it does, take it up a notch). While you won’t want to be lazy with it, trust me when I leave you with this:
The photo is priceless… but worth nothing if it costs you the company to share it with.