Many professional photographers seem to ONLY ever take pictures for money.Even if they’re off the job, they’re still shooting nearly the same thing they always shoot- portraits, brides, but in a “styled shoot” environment….and maybe the obligatory handful snaps at Thanksgiving or Christmas.And that’s it!No secret passion for random things like food photography, or hummingbird photography, or whatever.How weird is that?You become a professional full-time photographer because you have a passion for something, and then you don’t even do that passion in your spare time?(Of course for some professional photographers, “spare time” is a mythical thing!)

I think it’s VERY important to have something you can do just for yourself.It helps you expand your creative vision so much!Those are the times when you do some of your best thinking, coming up with new ideas to integrate with your actual work.Or at least, just having a hobby, plain and simple.If you’re a photographer without a photographic hobby, it’s just kinda weird if you ask me!

So, make the time.If you’re a slave to your photography work, the job can be just as tough as any 9-5 desk job.The whole reason you’re a professional is so that you can (eventually) have some free time here and there, to do the things you’re really passionate about.Right?

Personally, I have a passion for landscapes, nature, and any kind of night-time photography involving stars and/or tripods.Nothing in photography is more exciting and fulfilling than getting up at 5 AM to hike a few miles and watch a beautiful sunrise, or to see the milky way.If you’ve never watched a peaceful sunrise before, you owe it to yourself to do at least once in your life.You might think that a sunrise is identical to a sunset, right?Totally wrong!Sunset happens during a busy time of day, when everybody is hustling and bustling around, at least in suburbia.At sunrise though, even in the middle of suburban sprawl it’s still very, very quiet and calm.Also, a sunrise has a lot more potential to be spectacular, because the air is usually still cold and the sun is coming up to warm everything up.

Another thing you should do at least once in your life, is go see the milky way.Go out to the desert, summer is best in this part of the world, …and look up.Enjoy!Preferably on a night when there is no moon, if you want the full effect.Last night, I went out to Joshua Tree National Park at 1 AM, to shoot some photos by the light of the full moon.You can’t see the milky way, but the moon shines so bright that it’s almost like daylight.

Joshua Tree by moonlight – Canon 7d, Tokina 11-16 f/2.8, manfrotto tripod, f/4, ISO 200, 4 min exposure

Matt, by “phonelight” – Canon 7d, Tokina 11-16 f/2.8, manfrotto tripod, f/5.6, ISO 800, 30 sec exposure

 But, don’t take my word for it!Set your alarm for “o-dark thirty” someday, and see for yourself.Or, maybe just find your passion photographing food, or birds, orwhatever it is you enjoy in “real life”.

Take care,

Here’s a time lapse video that I created a couple winters ago, of an incredible (and terrible) event that is unfortunately a frequent occurrence here in Southern California.The quality isn’t perfect, but it’s just something I threw together in my spare time.Currently, my passion for time lapses and night-time photography has taken me out to the middle of the desert at 2 AM a few times; my idea of fun lately is to lay in a sand dune all night next to my camera & tripod, watching the stars rotate through the sky.Hopefully someday soon I’ll be able to share more of those images and time lapse videos with the world!