We photographers are always looking toward the future. In fact, while I don’t have percentages or anything like that, it’s safe to say that we spend a huge proportion of time thinking about or worrying about the future. This is something that pervades photography in general, and it’s something that can perhaps prove a little problematic.
When you stop to think about it, looking at it honestly, how much time do you spend worrying about how to save up money so you can afford tomorrow’s latest and greatest gear? How much time is devoted to researching these things, reading reviews or watching YouTube videos so that you can stay current on the newest gadgetry or the things that are up and coming?
And that’s certainly not the only future-oriented thing you’ll spend time thinking about. There are backups to manage, and if you’re like me, then you’ve probably spent hours researching new backup systems, staying current with the technology just so that you can ensure your digital archives will be safe for years to come. Things like prints — we spend all kinds of time learning about papers that we hope will ensure our prints last decades or even hundreds of years, and then yet more time is devoted to finding archival mats and all the rest to help keep those prints looking great long into the future.
These things are all good things to think about, too. Of course, like it or not, we’ll need to purchase new gear eventually, so it’s good to keep an eye on what is up and coming. And ensuring things like prints or digital archives will last a lifetime — that’s an important thing to do, too.
So thinking about the future is necessary. But does there come a point when we spend too much time thinking about tomorrow? We, each of us, probably spends hours upon hours mulling over the future. But what about today? I wonder if it’s possible that we sometimes spend so much time futureproofing that we just aren’t getting the chance to focus on the photographs we could be taking today.
Again, none of this is to say that thinking of the future is unnecessary, something that we should not be doing. But between jobs, friends, family, and all the day-to-day things that need our attention, most of us are already pressed for time. I do think it’s possible that for some of us, some time could be saved by spending fewer of our spare moments worrying about tomorrow when we could be using that time to do something creative today.
Thinking of it another way, if we’re not creating photographs today, then what point is there to worrying about how we’ll print or preserve them tomorrow? It comes down to prioritizing the things that we do with our time. For photographers, the biggest priority should be the creation of art. Everything else, even though it may be a necessary concern, is secondary to the act of creation.