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The Three-Year Itch in Photography


When you glance through a women magazine, different rules about relationships and their make-or-break moments turn up. One such moment seems to be the three year-itch. It has been described as follows:

You know, that period in the relationship when you feel like you are starting to take each other for granted, when you don’t have that fervent desire to see each other and when that other person no longer occupies your mind during every single second of every day. – Elite Daily

Lately, I have the feeling something similar might be happening in my relationship… with photography.

Falling in Love

Three years ago, I fell in love with photography. We were casually dating before, I brought photography as a date to meetings with friends and family, tried out some analog cameras, etc. But at some point, our love intensified and we really hit it off.

I spent multiple evenings with photography at the beach and I was so curious to get to know everything I could. A magical and intriguing time.

It only grew from there. Photography started to accompany me everywhere I went, either physically in the form of one or many cameras on my neck or cognitively, controlling my thoughts. We went on workshops together, met new people together, and just had a lot of fun. I found my thing.

Rollercoasters and Hurricanes

One of the risks of such a blooming passionate love, however, is going into overdrive. A whirlwind of activities, workshops, project ideas, exhibitions to see, competitions to enter, people to meet, projects to finish or equipment to test followed. There’s always something to do when you’re in love with photography.

In the beginning, this feels like a rollercoaster in the amusement park, you are moving fast, feeling alive, enjoying the ride and yelling “wihaaaaaa.”

But such a high-energy state can’t go on forever (especially in a low-energy creature like myself). And then… a tipping point. The rollercoaster turns into a hurricane. The whirlwind of activities, thoughts and emotions are still there, but control is lost and you feel like you’re being dragged from here to there.

In this hurricane, photography is still on your mind, but in between all these positive and exhilarating creative thoughts, some negative seeds are popping up:

Why is photography suddenly giving me deadlines and stress and e-mails and tasks to do? Why is it taking up all my time and money with his urges and needs? Don’t I deserve some time for other interests and valuable other relationships?

The Three-Year Itch

Which leads us to the three-year itch, or maybe the eye of the hurricane? A place to breath and let go of some of the obsessiveness of these first stages. Not every thought goes to photography, other interests show up again, not everything that I read or talk about has to be about photography.

This is where I am hanging out at the moment. I cut back on some (but not all) photography activities, postponed some others, and am spending time doing other things… exploring other interests. For example, I am working on that low-energy body of mine by feeding it more fruits and veggies, trying out healthy and delicious recipes (frozen banana ice-cream anyone?) and starting to run again.

Still, being in this place also scares me a bit. I’m scared that, if my head and mouth aren’t completely full of photography anymore, I might lose this passion. Or guilt, because I am not putting as much time as I could in working on photography projects.

What Now?

It’s scary, but there is a positive aspect, too: I now have the opportunity to reflect.

Where do I want this relationship with photography to go, how do I want to incorporate it in my life, what’s its place compared to other interests, and how can I turn the focus again on the most fulfilling aspects I found in this hobby/passion and not take these for granted? What do I do with the deadlines, to do’s, and out-of-the-comfort-zone aspects that showed up?

I am still trying to figure it out. If you’ve been in a similar situation within your passion for photography (or other interests), let me know.

About the author: Nathalie Vissers is a Belgium-based photographer who loves turning mundane elements into fictional objects, landscapes, and characters. To see more of her work and words, visit her website or check out her blog. This post was originally published here.