Spouses and photography

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I recently had a conversation with a reader with a question that honestly surprised me: “How do I hide my photography obsession from my wife?” I have to admit this one stumped me for a while: I’ve never hidden it from Nadiah, nor do I think I could even if I tried to – partially because I’m a really bad liar, and partially because for as long as she’s known me, even in corporate – I’ve always been a photographer first and foremost. But it does bring up some interesting thoughts around photography and spouses…

Personally, I couldn’t ask for a better partner: probably because photography came before her, she’s always accepted it as part of who I am, even when some of my actions seem a little illogical (or borderline financially irresponsible, even when I wasn’t doing this for a living – she knows now that I’ll be the first person to question the likely return on any potential investment.). She supported me through two attempts at going pro – the latter of which stuck, which was the fourth attempt overall – knowing full well that there was a very high chance some belt-tightening would be involved and possibly outright failure. Actually, that’s not quite accurate: she gave me the final push to take the risk again and try one last time, without which I’d still be master of a desk and some powerpoint slides. I’ve never had my photographic-related expenses questioned and she almost never gets impatient if I get distracted and wander off to shoot when we’re out together. I can’t ask for much more, really.

But on the flip side, she has very little interest in photography herself – other than as a necessary visual tool or something aesthetically pleasing to look at. I’ve tried to teach her and spread some of the enthusiasm, which I give her credit for attempting to embrace, but in the end it simply didn’t stick – “but what’s the point of me taking the picture if you’re already shooting?” she asks. She is content to experience and enjoy in person rather than seeking alternate visual presentations or trying to translate something she imagines – which I think is perfectly reasonable (and avoids all sorts of neuroses which we suffer, like which lenses to bring or whether to be in location A, B or C for sunset, or whether to sit on the left side or right side of the plane).

I’ve talked to a lot of serious pros, photographers, enthusiasts, non-photographers and pretty much everybody in between. It does seem as though there are a large number of spouses who simply either don’t understand or worse, don’t approve of the hobby. I don’t know whether it’s because of the amount of time it takes* or because of the costs; yet I can think of many other far more damaging side pursuits. It is a mentally stimulating activity that forces you to do some thinking and creative exploration – or at least it should be, if taken beyond equipment collecting. And no matter how expensive the lens or camera, it still has more residual value than for instance an equivalent amount of consumed alcohol or cigarettes. (Sorry pal, you’re on your own if you have more than one addiction.) As a result, I always find it quite odd when people say they have to hide purchases from their spouse – granted, if you’re acquiring lenses with the rent money or children’s school fees, there’s a problem. Though I admit  I do wonder how much of that is self-inflicted guilt rather than actual spousal disapproval.

*I actually started photography partially because I wanted something to do that wouldn’t take up huge chunks of time at a continuous stretch – you can shoot for as long or as short a period of time as you feel, though obviously some warming up tends to improve results.

The thing is, I’m also not sure it’s a good idea to have a spouse who’s also a photographer, either. I know quite a number of couples who fall into this category, and one or more of three things usually happens. Firstly, there will be one party who’s more passionate than the other, which can result in serious disagreements of the “but I want to go to Barbados, not Death Valley!” type. Secondly, there’s the jealousy factor – as much as we want to be fair and supportive, we’re also human. I know several professional photographer couples who’ve divorced because of this – worse still if you shoot in the same industry and land up being competition, or one is doing drastically better than the other (leading to resentment). Finally, after several years – assuming they stay together – one party eventually just stops shooting. And don’t think dreams of maximising efficiency by sharing cameras and lenses works, either – I don’t actually know of any couple who’s managed to make this work, but I do know of many couples who always buy two of the same lens.

It’s healthy to have different interests. Both parties can learn something. (And you might have something else to photograph, too). It’s probably also healthy to have non-competing or non-conflicting interests, too. And healthier still to be able to put away the cameras on couple-time so your partner doesn’t feel like they’re playing third wheel; this is probably something I need to work on. I’d love to be wrong – but the only photographer couples I know who’ve lasted the distance tend to have either one very accommodating party or shoot vastly different things and don’t really compete creatively.

So here’s where I open this post to the floor, and please leave your thoughts in the comments:

  • Is your partner supporting, accepting or resentful of your photographic hobby?
  • Does your partner have any interest in photography of their own – either as audience or their own work?
  • Do you find it gets in the way – either the partner or the camera?
  • Do you feel you have to hide purchases, and if so, why?

And if there are any non-photographers who happened to have wondered here by mistake, hopefully you’ll see that a) obsession is normal; b) there are always people who’ve got it worse and c) it’d be great to hear from the other side of the audience too! MT


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  1. My partner isn’t into photography and I’m struggling. She hates if I try to take pictures of her, and demands the forced, rigid countdown if I do get permission, but she also is impatient with the process of studying a scene for the right angle, lighting or potential macros. I’m so frustrated that I’ve given up trying to take pictures in her company. If I go anywhere with her, it’s all about socializing with her and friends, no time to ponder a room, or architecture. So for me, the problem isn’t gear, it’s having to realize that there are some people who not only aren’t interested, but they feel shortchanged if I focus on anything but conversing or socializing. I feel very conflicted and for the last 8 months, I havent touched my gear. Ive actually sold off the most expensive pieces.

    • I’m sorry to hear that; it does sound like there may be issues beyond photography though – one can only hope the rest of the relationship makes up for it…

  2. My wonderful wife will occasionally go out w/me using my backup camera when I go shooting for fun. She often goes with me on my long drives which we both love. As far as professional, I look to her to review my images when I get stuck. Through the years, she has grown to be such a valuable asset to my workflow and I often tell her that she really should pick the camera up for more than just an occasional outing as she has such a great point of view!!

  3. My boyfriend just keeps buying me all this great photography gear and I love it! He’s very supportive!

  4. 1. Mostly accepting, relatively intolerant of it cutting into 1/1 and kids time, so I try to work around that as much as possible.
    2. She thinks a fair number of images I make are pretty cool, loves to take/look at pictures/movies of the kids (we have 4), takes a lot of pictures/movies of the kids with her iPhone, and asks me to take good pictures of the kids with my stuff. Outside of that, not really. Has shown very little interest in watching me set shots up, doesn’t ask why I do something that way, doesn’t know how to operate any of my gear, and not interested in doing so.
    3. No, not really, but again, I work really hard to work around being present with my family when it matters. With that being said, I generally have at least 1 camera with me besides my iPhone. My current walk around camera is the Fuji Klasse (yes, I shoot film when shooting my family), its small and I can just stick it in my back pocket when walking around. If I see something I want to document, pull it out, take the picture(s), put it back and continue being present. Most importantly, take mental notes of stuff you might want to come back to later on your own to shoot more creatively.
    4. No. However, I also don’t ask beforehand, nor do I notify her of purchases. Her words: “If I see something new you bought, I might ask you how much it costs, but at the end of the day I don’t really worry about it because I know you’ve made sure all our other expenses have been covered first.” With that being said, I’m generally not a gear head. Yes, I do have gear, but almost all of it was purchased for a very specific type of photo, or for a type of job that I do a lot of. The vast majority of my gear is actually quite old, and all my film gear (except my Toyo 4×5) was purchased used. I don’t generally buy gear unless I need it. For me, new gear doesn’t mean anything unless it will help me make more money. It all goes back to the old adage: it’s not the gear that makes the image, it’s the photographer. Yes, you need gear, but I’d say if you know how to use said gear to its fullest, you can take shockingly good photos with shockingly entry level gear. So yes, I buy gear, I’m very selective (price conscious), and buy low end gear. If low end gear won’t get the job done, I figure out what I need and rent it for the job. If that happens a couple of times, I figure out what I need to do in order to buy it. But again, you can shoot *a lot* of stuff with not much, gear-wise. I guess I don’t let my gear serve as a mental block to me getting an image. If I have a reasonable amount of control over shutter/ISO/aperature, a reasonable amount of resolution, and a reasonable lens selection, then I’m happy. Does low end stuff come with issues? You betcha, however, it’s for this reason that I strive to make images where those issues are there, but don’t really matter. I learned a long time ago that there is no such thing as a perfect image, because there is no perfect gear. All images have issues. I’ve never taken a perfect image, and never will, and I’m OK with that. If you know what the issues are, you just simply work around then so that they’re as least distractive as possible. If that’s your mode of operation, does it matter what gear you have? For a lot of images, not really. (e.g. If viewers are concentrating on the quality of the bokeh, then I’ve lost them because I don’t make images where the subject of said image was the bokeh). I’ve taken a lot of crap images that I’ve thrown away, and I’ve taken a lot of images that I was less than happy with, but everyone else seemed to like them, and I’ve taken a lot of pictures that where good enough to get paid for (and where paid for), all while working with what I had at the time. In short: the center of attention of an image isn’t the gear used to make the image, or the photographer that made the image, it’s the subject of the image. Done with digression.

  5. Pixelgreat says:

    My partner and I actually used to work in the same field ( thankfully not photography) and I can confirm there will always be some competition if that happens! ( He did better than I did……) Nobody I know shares my interest in photography so I’m on my own with that. I haven’t spent the mortgage payment on any equipment yet though!

  6. Amazing!

  7. My wife is very patient with my photography. She has adapted by taking some excellent shot of me working.

  8. My incredible Fiance is my rock and my cheerleader as I take my first steps to moving from theatre lighting designer to unit stills photographer. A journey started last Christmas when she helped me realise I wasn’t happy doing what I was doing. We discuss purchases at length and she understands that I enjoy the research a lot. I just have to remember that as I now work in photography during the day if I talk about it all evening it can come across to her as me still being at work. So I’ve started leaving the big cameras at home and only taking film cameras out on holidays and weekends together (no chimping and different enough that it doesn’t blur the lines with work.) She is a wonderful model and endlessly patient. She works in a creative profession as well (TV and Film puppeteer and art director) so it’s a mutual thing. Balancing two early freelance careers in London is hard. And that’s why I don’t always have the latest kit I have the kit I need to do the job I need to do. Currently due an upgrade though, adding Fuji XT2 to the Nikon lineup!

  9. douglasgottlieb says:

    Love your content, hate your layout Ming. Please update to a mobile friendly presentation.

    • Sorry! It’s meant for desktop or tablet reading. Viewing images on a mobile device is rather pointless…especially when you’re trying to convey more information that works at the size of a postage stamp…

      • douglasgottlieb says:

        Shocked to hear you say that. Your words have no less impact on my phone and the spectacular images no less value. They’re illustrative, supporting the text. In that context, a high resolution phone is perfectly suitable. The improvement from phone to tablet to computer is tiny. We’re not inspecting your raw files for “proof” — we look at web posted images with different expectations.

        I hope you’ll reconsider. Why make it hard? Responsive templates are plentiful and cheap and serve your entire readership.

        I will of course, continue to read you regardless of context. Mobile Safari “reader view” makes it at least possible. But harder than it should be.

        Thanks for listening c

        • Well, as the creator…I can tell you they just don’t look right or have the right impact on my phone. Viewing size does matter!

          As for templates etc – yes, there are options, but the current template that makes the site easy to read was created from scratch, and doing the same for mobile is a significant investment in time – which honestly, given the amount of content I already provide for free, I don’t have any to spare right now…

  10. I always point to her purses every time she sees me with new gear. I always say “At least my gear sees the sun more than your purses will ever see.” Then she backs off 🙂

  11. Michael Jardeen says:

    It has been a struggle for me at times. My first wife was ok because that was a slower period for me artistically. My 2nd marriage waxed and waned in terms of the intensity of my passion for my art. That all changed with my moving out and my depression in 2003. When I moved out in Sept 2002 I was completely lost. My life was a disaster. At the time everything was a struggle, everything was darkness. Then a friend in my Mac User Group gave me a digital camera. It was a pretty bad camera, 1 mega pixel, with a louse lens, made by Epson.

    It was magic. Freed from the cost of film and processing I went to it like a fish takes to water. It set me on a path, a path that I am still traveling. My artistic world became more and more important to me. Two years ago I set out to play what was my last real video game and since then my art has become the cornerstone of Me. Along that path I have had three relationships. The first was total encouragement, the second was dominated by jealousy of my time behind a camera and that deranged sense that I had to almost give it up for her.

    I think my current relationship has more balance, but it is still tense at times.

  12. I’m very grateful for having a considerate girlfriend. She was quite camera shy before I came along, but now she is more than happy for me to take photos of her when we’re out and about. She is even taking great photos herself nowadays on my old Canon AE-1. Having said this, she doesn’t share the passion to quite the same level as me, so I’m careful not to ruin our time together by spending more time with my camera than with her. But that’s how relationships work. Both parties have to compromise to make it successful. My one recommendation to any photography enthusiast… don’t put your hobby before your partner! Put your partner first, and then he/she will be more likely to support you when you do want to shoot.

  13. My wife?
    She is the most supportive person to my photography I can think of.
    Yes, she is VERY interested in my photographic results, she usually looks at them and comes up with a lot of positive and negative critique. She has excellent ideas for my photography which are not always realistic. She does not care about my equipment (nor its cost), yet she thinks I am insane, when I ask her to hold my D4 with an 80-400AF-S D for a moment. Occasionally she takes a pic with one of my cams (not the 80-400 😉 ), mostly with her I-Phone though.
    My wife hardly ever gets in my (photographic) way, yet she pushes me when time is getting short.
    Hide my purchase? She does not even notice.


  14. John Andrew Lee says:

    Mine is a superb editor. But she does not like to be in front of the camera-which kinda sucks. But she is very supportive. My days of hiding purchases are long gone.

  15. I think these same questions or issues between couples arise with any hobby that becomes “serious” or one’s passion.

  16. Interesting topic and a lovely portrait. She is lucky to have a talented photographer at her service. 🙂

    Now to your questions…. Actually my interest in photography started only after I met her and wanted to take her pictures. Therefore I blame my obsession to her. I still like shooting her pictures but now my subject matter has expanded to other things (landscape, nature etc.). I have never had to hide purchases but when I got into Leica then it was a little shocker to her. She trusts me, although I have a suspicion that I am being monitored. 🙂

    I would also like to add… If you shoot Leica then you may not have to hide some purchases. All variants of M, digital and film look similar therefore she won’t know you have more than one body. Not that I have taken advantage but it is a free tip for others. 🙂

  17. The real question is : How do you deal with your wife when she realizes that you obsession for Leica (talking about me) is as high as your obsession for Hi-Fi…which is far to be less expensive !

  18. Your muse has definitely improved with age, either that or your ability has!

  19. My wife Branka is my inspiration, support system and my most objective critic…She’s an artist (oil, latex) so we bounce ideas around contantly. As for the spending, she’s uderstanding (I buy mostly used). Honestly, I could not do this without her….just my two cents.

  20. My girlfriend is an exceptionally talented ‘lapsed’ artist and I couldn’t ask for a better half, no matter the angle — curiosity, support, patience, etc. She will follow me on every/any lark or adventure. Gear? She’s a peach… never questions a single box that arrives from B&H (other than showing true joy that I have another glass bauble for the arsenal). Of course, she probably takes it easy on my camera expenses as I prioritize — I purchased a used, rusty ’97 Subaru for $200 5 years ago. I’ve spent approx. 100x that in camera gear during that time period. My Subaru must never die 🙂 ::fingers crossed::

    Funny story — we visit my girlfriend’s mom every week, and I always have a camera with me, whether it was my D750, Sigma Quattro, my new K-1 or an older Nikon or Oly film body. She looked at me one day and said — ‘if there’s a fire in the house, do rescue my daughter or your camera first?”

    • Rescue your backup drives. You can carry those and your girlfriend, and those aren’t replaceable. Cameras are (unfortunately, I know this too well personally since they also tend to break rather often with me and require replacement…)

  21. Stuart Foster says:

    My wife is really a perfect partner for me and we love and admire each other deeply. I became more serious about my photography about 6 months before we started dating (about 4 years ago) so it has been there since the beginning. She is probably my biggest fan and is always interested to see the photos I take. I ask her for her feedback when I’m curating or working on a photo and she is happy to provide her opinion. Whenever I produce one that she really loves she always wants me to have it printed and hang it somewhere in the house….which is great encouragement.

    She used to be into photography to some extent herself and had an SLR before we met and she takes pretty good photos actually. We have gone out together on hikes where we both take photos and she engages fully in the process and enjoys it but, normally, she is just happy for me to take the photos. She has also, very happily, offered to act as my assistant (holding flash stands and reflectors etc) on a few occasions where I had friends who hired me to take portraits of them and she is very patient and encouraging throughout the process.

    Normally I’m just taking photos on the way to and from work so it doesn’t really get in the way much. When we go out as a couple or a family she wants me to bring my camera and take photos of us…often with a tripod so I can be in the photo…kind of a glorified selfie…and she likes it when I can get nice photos of all of us. She also is quite patient with me when I want to stop and take photos of something along the way even if I have to stop the car and turn around to go back to a spot. She will also wait in the car or in spot while I explore an area. However, I try not to over-do it as I realize it does get old and there are times when she gets impatient with me but mostly she is very accommodating. Her biggest complaint is when I spend too much time on the computer reviewing and processing my images when she wants to sit next to me on the couch and she likes to say that my laptop is my wife. 🙂 So…that is

    I never hide my purchases. My wife actually doesn’t make any judgements on my spending. That said, I’m fairly careful about not spending too much money and I don’t really suffer from GAS very often as my current equipment suits my needs. There are a couple of lenses I would consider buying but I will only buy them if the need really arises…same thing with lights.

    And….luckily…all the same can be said about my other main hobby which I’ve been doing for 35 years…which is playing electric guitar and bass. She is a fan of my playing and she asks me to play for her while she’s cooking etc…or, if she hasn’t heard me play for a while, she says she misses hearing me play. She’ll sit on the couch reading the iPad and watching me as I play and occasionally take photos of me. So…it really doesn’t get any better than that. I’m a very lucky guy. 🙂

  22. I think it would be fair to say my wife tolerates my photography and I moderate the time I ‘play with my photography’. She has no wish to take photographs, but will often see a subject/scene that will ‘make a good photo’. When it comes to vacations, there is now an understanding there must be potential for some photographic subject/time. When it comes to that time, a good book will suffice as far as she is concerned, while I wander off to do my thing.

    Could I spend more time with photography… of course! Should I? I’m afraid I’m one of those who can become totally engaged in what he’s doing, so I probably shouldn’t To a certain extent I’m lucky that most of my work is digital – I can effectively stop instantly and carry on later, if I had to spend time in the darkroom…….. oh no!

    I’m afraid trying to hide a photography obsession is a big no no – as would trying to hide any obsession. A partnership can’t last under that.

  23. Beautiful!

  24. I have no answers to your questions, but would like to say something I’ve thought for as long as I’ve followed your site: there is a special “feel” about all of your images that contain your lady, a palpable emotional depth. Not that it’s lacking in your other images, but it really jumps out (at least to my eye) from those where she’s featured. Best wishes to you both.

  25. The love of Art and Photography make me a better person and husband. Slowing down to look,enjoy and share ……isn’t that all there is? No need to hide anything from my wife. Generally, as photo stuff goes I don’t want for much…..She been bugging me to decide on a new printer….we got wall space……I’ve been bugging her to redo the kitchen …she bakes;-)

  26. Jonathan Hodder says:

    “…she almost never gets impatient if I get distracted and wander off to shoot when we’re out together.” You are a very, VERY lucky man my friend.

    • I said almost never. When she does, it isn’t pretty (but I probably deserved it) – and I also remind her that my photography pays the bills… 🙂

  27. Jim Suojanen says:

    My spouse has little understanding of my obsession; she is quite happy with her “ancient” Nikon D50. I can’t hide purchases since she writes the checks. When we disagree, I will sometimes forgo a purchase. I also try to sell equipment prior to purchasing something new to reduce the out-of-pocket expense. She tolerates my largesse in part because she knows where the money is going; and it’s NOT going to alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc..

    When we take walks together, she will tolerate 2-3 stops for making pictures. After that she just keeps walking so I have to get my compositions and exposures right the first time. It’s good practice. When I’m serious about making photographs, she encourages me to go out by myself. She even agrees to the occasional solo trip since I return from these adventures happier (and I spend weeks processing the images and not looking for new purchases).

    So we don’t share a similar passion for photography. But she accepts mine since it is part of who I am. I am very blessed.

    • “When we take walks together, she will tolerate 2-3 stops for making pictures. After that she just keeps walking so I have to get my compositions and exposures right the first time. It’s good practice.”

      Definitely good motivation to work fast 🙂

  28. Hello Ming

    My wife is also a photographer and we both support each other. While we usually will go to the same locations together, we tend to shoot them separately since we have different visions. We usually to bounce our ideas together after the fact during post. We both have our own equipment so which avoids conflict although it’s interesting how seldom we pick the same lens for the same subject. No need to hide purchases, although we budget them since we end up buying two of everything. (Olympus). I also shoot film and medium format which she has no interest in, but doesn’t have a problem with.

  29. “Is your partner supporting, accepting or resentful of your photographic hobby?”
    I’ve got her to turn a blind eye on the crazy things I do on photography e.g. creeping up at 3:30am for a sunrise shot while she sleeps through it…She considers photography as me doing crayons on a canvas – 整色整水
    “Does your partner have any interest in photography of their own – either as audience or their own work?”
    Nope, but her iphone 6s photos are my backups sometimes.
    “Do you find it gets in the way – either the partner or the camera?”
    Not really – I have my time, she has her “me time”.
    “Do you feel you have to hide purchases, and if so, why?”
    Nope. she understands my photography purchases like her buying handbags / designer shoes.

  30. Very interesting post again, thank you. My story is quite similar having started photography at year 11. Main difference is that I made long ago the firm decision to earn my living some other way and keep photography as a hobby. Has been easier for me, I think, and I can buy all the equipment I want. Not even need to justify the finances, though that could have been good on some occasions.
    Short answers to your questions.
    Support yes, no own interest but my wife does flower arrangements and I make pictures of them so mutual benefit in that sense. Does not really get on the way, sometimes on the contrary my wife urges me to be more active in photography when my inspiration occasionally vanes. No need to hide, it is my only real hobby and I deserve my toys…

  31. My beloved wife knew me while photography was almost a medicine to me. I went through a bad time in my life and I simply wanted to find beauty everywhere around me, even in most common things, and capture it.
    She studied as a photographer too, and video. Aker, but never got that “burning flame” about the media.
    So she understands and accept this passion of mine, I would almost call it obsession since if I don’t shoot for a couple of days I get nervous, and I feel lucky about that.
    I don’t suffer from GAS, I’m on your boat: I ask myself if I do really need a new camera or lens for work: unfortunatly I’m not a full time photog, but I admit my wife always encourages me to go on.
    She stopped using cameras since we met: she says I’m much better than her and everyone has his own talent (she has perfect pitch, music is her passion and I can’t even try at it), but she loved my RicohGR and was sad when it freezed. I’m sad too, honestly.
    Now she usually take photos with her iPhone and that’s ok for her.
    When we travel she knows that I’ll take a lot of photographs and it’s not a problem: the obvious thing is to remember to have also some good time and attention for her only. 🙂

  32. FULLSPECTRA says:

    What a poignant post Ming. A topic of our own household of late. We read this together in complete accord I might add.. each on our own individual side and in good humour!

  33. As Lady Bracknell says in “The Importance of being Ernest”, very man should have a hobby.

  34. Rex Michael Gigout says:

    For about a decade, I was the non-photographer half, as she tried to awaken my interest, which included buying me a decent point-and-shoot Olympus digital camera, so yes, she was accepting/supportive from the beginning, and does have her own interest, in her own photography. Actually, I was not a non-photographer, but had been content with disposable film cameras for a number of years, when photography was of secondary or tertiary importance to other pursuits, during which an SLR or rangefinder would have been a burden, and/or at serious risk of being damaged.

    Photography does not get in our way. I was supportive of her photography before I started shooting seriously. At this time, our shooting does not normally cause conflict. Neither of us are in the business of professional photography. Before her retirement in 2015, she was a forensic/medico-legal death scene investigator, a duty which includes serious photography. I still wear a police patrol uniform, and bring a rolling Pelican 1510 case to work each night, containing two DSLRs, a macro and mid-range zoom lenses, several flashguns, and other gear; my typical “model” is a victim of family violence, though I shoot other types of scenes, too, short of homicides. (I am primarily a first-responder.) My wife and I gravitate toward nature photography, in our personal shooting, probably because it takes quite a few images of flowers, bees, birds, bays, beaches, and bunnies to de-toxify one’s system of our more-serious work.

    I cannot hope to truly hide the cost of photography gear I buy, because, well, she is familiar with it, too. We both tend to buy pre-owned equipment, when possible. There is a bit of conflict, because she is content with a lesser amounts of gear, and more-modest lenses.

    Regarding the sharing of gear, we generally do not use each others’ cameras, especially without first asking to do so, but it would be understood if one had to borrow without asking, in an urgent situation. Size and weight keep her from wanting to use some of my cameras; she prefers her D7000 and Df cameras. She claimed the first Coolpix A that I bought, and did not really like sharing it; to keep the peace, I bought another. The only time a lens became the center of conflict was with my 50/1.2 AI-S, but no heated words were used.

    • Ouch. Very serious work indeed…how do you keep it separate from the more enjoyable kind of photography?

      • Rex Michael Gigout says:

        Well, other than the antidote of photographing nature, flowers, and cute animals, there is the need for professional detachment. For a while, I used mostly Canon gear at work, and Nikon gear for personal shooting, as part of an effort to compartmentalize things. Another way to see it, is that forensic images are not artistic; center the subject, or most important part of the subject, in the viewfinder, and shoot. Documenting an overall scene, from a fixed reference point, is like slicing a pie, with a bit of overlap. A walk-through series, or a grid pattern is a similar concept, frame the shot, shoot, move a bit further, frame the shot, with a bit of overlap, shoot, etc. These can be very tedious, as it is desirable that each image present the viewer with a “normal” angle of view, rather than a wide angle. So, while many of the tools are similar, crime scene/forensic/evidentiary photography is largely different from our personal shooting.

  35. Peter Ward says:

    My partner supports my hobby/obsession. The gear is expensive & I do suffer from ‘GAS’ but the photography has moved me out of drinking with the buddies as a hobby and it’s actually a lot cheaper. Not to mention you can sell off the gear when you need/want and not literally have your money go down the drain.

    My dear wife has zero interest in photography other than mobile shots for social networks. She cannot fathom my interest, but allows it freely and gives praise for my efforts. As far as getting involved a willing hand is always there if needed but for modeling my photography of her is too truthful. I always cop abuse for my lenses ability to show how old a person really is! 🙂

    The DSLR most always comes away with us on holidays or trips and it somtimes gets in the way. I am ‘training myself’ to have times totally without it because when it’s in my hands a ‘quick shot of that’ can turn into 30 mins to an hour etc – I loose track of time when I engage my photography brain. Leah is polite and supportive enough to let me go, but I do know it’s a problem and now try to keep it in check in family time. I go on my own more often, we both get free time which is a good thing.

    I employ the ‘gradual introduction’ technique of announcing an expensive purchase. I’ll normally discuss what I want to purchase and why, then do some shopping around to get the best deal after a month or so. I’ll normally ask if I can purchase then get some stern resistance. I show how much I have saved from the intial price by shopping around, which can be big dollars on a lens or high price end items. If I really want it & don’t get the nod, I’ll end up bringing it home anyway and cop the heat for a few days/weeks. 🙂 I allow her to go on shopping sprees so it works both ways, just maybe mine is on a larger scale. That is also by her choice, I’m lucky my wife doesn’t like spending money.

  36. If you have to hide your hobby from your partner I’d say your relationship is in serious trouble – or it will be soon. And both sides are to blame. Should be rather obvious. That said, I’m a pro (or at least I make a decent living from photography) so I can label new equipment a tax deductible investment. Which today may actually come in very handy as my dealer has just gotten an X1d in stock. Gotta hurry now! 🙂

    PS: Would you put an accountant on the same level as a spouse? I’m more worried what he will say of an X1d invoice… Anyway, I always invest carefully and since I pay him I don’t worry too much.

  37. Once my wife told me that on the long run anyone need a mistress (is there a gender-neutral term for that?). She doesn’t mind mine is photography (and dallying with mountain biking…). I reckon that in my case self-inflicted guilt is probably the main problem.

  38. My spouse has always supported by photography Specially during the days of film as she could instantly see the results, and feel the pictures in her hands. She loved the instant feedback of digital but hated waiting for months to hold one.

    She did not mind the expense firstly because it was from my own allowance and savings, and Secondly because she loved that results, She had great confidence in my ability , And was always my biggest fan. Once you realize how much I was earning And the perks that came her way, She no longer questions any purchase I make .

    Her greatest enjoyment comes from our travels together , Where she gets to play the role of model and photographic assistant .

    Bottom-line inclusion is the success of any project . Be it your work team, your family, or even your assistance.


  39. jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Hmm – I wonder how much I should say, and how much I shouldn’t!
    Well – for openers, she’s the best thing that ever happened to me, and loves me more than anyone else has ever loved me, since the day I was born. So she puts up with practically anything I get up to.
    That said – she knows a great deal more about the hair raising lifestyle I had before we fell in love & shot across to Paris to marry – and I am quite sure she draws a great deal of comfort from knowing I’m buried in photography, because no matter what I spend on that, it’s a lot less disturbing for her than some of the other stuff I used to get up to.
    Anyway – what’s the big deal? – one day when I was hanging around one of my favourite camera shops, the guy being served told the chap behind the counter that buying a camera couldn’t get him into anywhere near as much trouble as he copped, when he came home with $25,000 worth of fishing gear. (And a boat – OUCH !!!)
    Do I hide it from her? That would be difficult – a D810 with either of the Otus lenses is kind of conspicuous. Oh – you meant hide the cost of it? – well yes & no – 🙂 I learned that expression from her, so it’s apparently OK – I didn’t rush into the lounge room & say “darling, guess what? – I just bought another Otus, and it only cost $6,500 (after trade-in)!” – I sort of filtered the message in a bit more slowly & gently, but by the time it came to increasing the insurance policy, it was impossible to hide it. And at that stage, it was worse – I had to play “show poker” and admit to the total cost of ALL the gear, which is a bloody sight harder than admitting to the cost of one item. 🙂
    She still loves me, though. Can’t imagine why – but I’m not complaining.
    Oh – is she a ‘tog, too? Not really – she does have an ageing Olympus compact, and she loves taking photos with it. For example, she’s just been on a trip to England for the Shakespeare Festival they’ve had this year, and came back after a couple of weeks with over 300 shots of things like Stratford-on-Avon, Shakespeare’s school, Ann Hathaway’s cottage, Oxford, the Old Vic and so on – she gets me to post process them all for her, and also to produce copies that she can put on her tablet to show her friends, or email to them – and occasionally to print some of them for her. She has an iPhone but rarely uses it for photography (does sometimes – but it’s quite rare). She ignores any attempt to give her a bit of guidance, to improve her photography – she’s totally happy with where she’s at, with her photography, and loves doing it.

  40. gnarlydognews says:

    I had partners that were not interested in photography, very little interest in photography and one with a bit of interest but not terribly creative, more on the “recording the event” style.
    Then I met a girl that barely photographed and I like to flatter myself with the idea that it was me to introduce her to serious photography (not iPhone). Within one year she started to produce work that I would be very proud of and a year later work that I generally could not pull off.
    She is now schooling me, not on the technical aspect so much, but in what makes a moving image.
    So, with my degree in photography and years of professional work in architecture I have to say that vision trumps over knowledge, formal education is just that: formal.
    I don’t really understand the concept of how a couple would compete against each other; it just makes me wonder what was the basis of that relationship? to the point to then actually split, over photography? really? … oh, I get it: the guy that has an ego big enough to not accept that a woman can be better than him? yes, feasible in that case then.

    • I’ve seen it happen before, but no, it makes no sense to me either. Though I suppose if they were both pros and competing for the same clients, that might be a problem.

    • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

      “Formal education” probably can only help with technical skills. I was heavily impressed by a film I saw years ago, called “The Prime of Miss Jean Brody” – should be compulsory viewing for everyone, both teachers and students. In it Miss Brodie (a teacher) gets into a huge row with the school board, because she has the unorthodox view that rote learning is no learning at all, and that her function at the school is to help the kids develop as young people, to expand and develop their minds and their “connect” with the world around them. Since then, I’ve seen what she meant, over and over, as I travelled through life. Common sense and a broad perspective, a broad “skill set”, can often triumph over a diploma!

  41. If you has a true obsession, I doubt there’s any way to hide it for any length of time. If you do you’ll probably start acting weird and your spouse will think you’re having an affair. Is that better?

    In my case, the obsession has been the subject of many discussions. Those were sometimes difficult, but we did manage to work out boundaries. When we are engaged in a shared activity, I don’t do serious photography. An occasional phone snap is okay. Getting fixated on working a scene isn’t. When we travel we arrange some separate time when we can do what we want. I also don’t want to spend a lot of time shopping, and she has to do that on her own.

    After many years it’s no mostly not a problem. Keeping the communications open and non-defensive makes things go smoothly.

  42. “Is your partner supporting, accepting or resentful of your photographic hobby?”

    Incredibly so. To the degree that she often helps give me a little outside motivation whenever I’m needing that extra push.

    “Does your partner have any interest in photography of their own – either as audience or their own work?”

    Not really. She has an Instax that she enjoys the novelty of, she posts the usual stuff to Instagram, and she enjoys getting my prints of our kids, but other than that her interest is pretty limited.

    “Do you find it gets in the way – either the partner or the camera?”

    The camera can get in the way sometimes. I tend to go through bursts of true obsession where I think it’s pretty clear that my attention is constantly elsewhere. These are generally short enough that she seems to have not problems weathering them though.

    “Do you feel you have to hide purchases, and if so, why?”

    Never, quite the opposite in fact. I’ll often feel guilty about make frivolous large purchases which she has no problem with whatsoever. I’m fairly conservative with my finances though, so it’s never reached a point that it was truly financially irresponsible relative to our income.

    • I’ve never had any problem with the financial part: it’s tax deductible, and I’m far more militant about things generating ROI than she is.

  43. My partner is into photography, but less so than me..

    We have very different tastes in images and equipment, she buys based on the native colour pallet (especially sooc jpeg) I buy based on ergonomics and TCO of the body/lens package I want

    I don’t have to hide acquisitions from her (but I have with watches ;))

    I treat my gear like a tool, I use it hard, but maintain it well, she um less so… example? She might not bring a camera to a place where it might get damaged, I do but I try and take care. My cameras are cleaned and stored safety, her’s are left lying around, getting dusty etc

    My cameras are a tool, when they’ve outlived their purpose they’re off. She collects cameras she never uses (some really nice 1960s rangefinders, yet doesn’t get the whole WIS thing…)

    Our photography doesn’t really cross paths… best analogy I can think of, is that one of us is like a Sushi chef, the other a pastry chef.. we might both need a kitchen and utensils, but after that there’s not actually any commonality

    I earn (a little) money from photography, she’s not really interested.

    I know more than her, shoot more than her, get more attention from my images than her, know more about PP than her…. more frequently than I’d like to admit she shoots some SOOC jpeg, shot from a compact and I’m seriously impressed and a tiny bit jealous 🙂

  44. Ming:

    My wife and I both have cameras, both work on Photoshop and both love taking pictures. We understand each other when we are driving somewhere and one says: “Look! A nice scene!”. And we stop and take pictures.

    I couldn’t have asked for a better photography companion!

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