Are You Working Hard in Photography?

by | May 22, 2021

Today’s post by Joe Farace

Hard work never killed anybody.”— advice often offered by one’s parents

My own parents never gave me that one particular piece of advice, probably because they knew better. After returned home from WW2, my Dad worked in a steel mill, specifically an open hearth furnace. at the tidewater Bethlehem Steel plant in Baltimore. It was a hell-like inferno that. most days. brought him home covered in burns but he was somehow during all this expected to keep on working. One day, a small explosive charge that’s supposed to open the furnace and allow molten steel to pour into a huge bucket, failed to go off. As Second Helper he was sent to investigate, as he got near the charge it exploded, leaving him partially deaf but glad to be alive. Later he was forced into early retirement because of emphysema. No, he didn’t smoke; he just breathed the air in his workplace.

Most photographers don’t face those kinds of hazards but they do face another one that can easily wreck havoc upon them and their loved ones. I’m talking about that “hard work,” that, not counting heart attacks, can not only kill you but will hurt the ones you love. I have heard far to many stories of small studio owners who worked every day to get their struggling business to survive, only to miss their children growing up. Believe me, once you’ve lost their childhood, it’s gone and I suspect that may one of the reasons some older man re-marry younger woman is so that they hope to recapture the time they lost with their first family. Wouldn’t it be easier and much better to do it right the first time?

I’m not Anne Landers but there are signs you can watch out for to see if you’re becoming a workaholic. These came to my attention from the Colorado Statue University Cooperative Extension and I’d like to share some of them with you along with some of my own thoughts.

  • Do you think that it’s OK to work long hours if you love what you’re doing? If so, you may be a workaholic. A corollary to this is telling yourself that you’re “doing this for the family.” This may really mean lying to yourself, because if after all the hard work is done and you’ve lost your family, what was the point of working in the first place.
  • You may experience headaches, insomnia, shortness of breath, racing heartbeat, muscle tension or ulcers. There’s another cliché that says “life’s too short,” and if these symptoms aren’t enough to convince you that you need to make some changes, maybe this next story will.
  •  You can’t wait to get off the phone with friends when they call and they call less often than they once did. I find this particular symptom poignant, because of an incident that happened to me when I still owned a photo studio. During our “busy season” a friend called while I was out of the office. When I got back Mary gave me his message but I told her I didn’t want to call him back, because I was too busy. She urged me to call, because Ernie was concerned about how I was feeling. So I called him and we had a friendly chat about how I was feeling and what projects each of us were both working on. When I got off the phone, I thanked Mary for urging me to call. When I got home that night, the phone rang. Ernie’s wife called to say he had died from a massive heart attack two hours after we spoke. He was worried about how I was feeling and I almost didn’t take the time to talk with him one last time. Don’t miss the time to talk to the people you care about and who care about you