Dear Thrive: How Do I Explain My Work to New Friends?



Welcome to Thrive! A weekly advice column for creatives and the generally confused.


Dear Thrive:
Once upon a time I was really into photography, but then I stopped for a whole bunch of different reasons, mostly related to a day job. I want to get back into it but it has been YEARS and most of my new friends don’t know me as an “artist”. Do I pick this up again without explaining to them? Can I hide it from them until I am good again? Ugh, help.




Dear Snapless,

First things first… Take a deep breath! We are all so quick to beat ourselves up for putting projects and passions down when life gets in the way, but when it comes to picking them back up we never celebrate. You need to take a moment to recognize that though your life took a different path, and twisted and changed along the way, you came back to photography and that’s special. You’ve taken two very big, important steps to getting that camera back in your hand– 1) Admitting you miss that part of you and 2) Realizing that if you’re going to take the work seriously, it’s going to change your new life. Not many people understand that artwork takes time away– away from family, friends, partners, parties, vacations– and just being as aware as you are is a great accomplishment.

I don’t think you need to hide this new passion from your new life. If anything, you should be integrating it as soon as possible. I am inferring from your note that your new friends aren’t “artists” like yourself and you’re worried about perception. Explain to your friends that this is something you loved when you were younger and that now your life has stabilized a little more, you’re ready to welcome it back. Let them know upfront that it’s going to affect your availability (both in person and via text) and that when you’ll share some pieces when you’re ready. (If you skip that step they’ll ask to see something every time you guys get together.) You can also explain that at this point it’s just a hobby and to not expect a gallery show anytime soon.

Work on scheduling your time appropriately and start slow. There’s no need to book a week long vacation for just you and your camera, when a Saturday afternoon will do. Join forums and groups online related to photography to find a support system (both online and off). Focus on finding your rhythm and don’t get (really try) frustrated when your first couple of sessions don’t wind up how you expected. You’ve been stagnant for awhile and you need time to loosen up and get the good stuff flowing. Try to remember what your favorite person, place, or thing was to shoot back in the day… can you replicate? Can you get close to the same feeling? Bringing back positive memories of shooting photos will put you in a better head space to work now and keep you calm when things don’t go well.

I hope this gets you started!



THRIVE is answered by Amanda Kusek, a poet, blogger, and dog mom living in NYC.


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