We all deal with stress from work and in our personal lives. Sometimes, though, that stress can build and build until we suffer from burnout, which can affect our professional work and personal relationships. As birth photographers, we are on call and dealing with stressful and highly emotional situations. If you are feeling burnt out, do not feel bad and do not feel alone! Almost all of us have experienced this at some point in our careers. Here are some signs and tips for dealing with burnout as a birth photographer.
What is burnout?
According to Psychology Today, “Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress. Though it’s most often caused by problems at work, it can also appear in other areas of life, such as parenting, caretaking, or romantic relationships.”
Burnout is a gradual process that builds up over time. It’s important to recognize the signs so you can address it sooner rather than later.
Signs of burnout:
– Exhaustion (both physical and mental)
– Loss of enjoyment
– Easily irritated
– Trouble concentrating
– Trouble sleeping
These are just a few signs of burnout and it may look different for everyone.
Tips for dealing with burnout:
Give yourself a break: When you’re a full time birth photographer, taking a break may not be feasible. This is where carving out time becomes important. Maybe you do need to take a long weekend off from photography. Sometimes stepping away just for a few days can be just what you need.
Do something else creative: Photography is a creative outlet, but sometimes when something is a job it can start to feel not as creative. Taking some time to work on something else to just be creative can be the invigoration you need to get back into birth photography.
Learn to say “no”: Way easier said than done! Birth photography is so different from other types of photography because we are on call. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a fulfilling work/life balance.
Set boundaries: Don’t be afraid to set boundaries in your contract. For example: You will not work for more than eight hours in a row without stepping away (and bringing in a back-up photographer) for refreshment including a nap, a meal, etc. Eight hours is just a suggestion, some people can work longer without their work beginning to suffer from on-site burnout. Only you know what your limits are.
Make sure you are pricing yourself properly: Feeling like you are not being compensated fairly for the time and effort you are putting into your birth photography is a quick way to experience burnout.
Find support: Get out there and connect with other nearby birth photographers. Building a network of potential back-up photographers cannot be overstressed! When you have a reliable back-up in place, it will help relieve some of the stress while you are on-call. Make this a priority. Our supportive Facebook group for IAPBP members can help you talk through feelings you might be having. Sometimes just venting to people who understand can make us feel a lot better.
Outsource: Consider outsourcing your editing, email inbox management, or other elements of your business that can help you gain back some time.
Dealing with burnout as a birth photographer can look a lot different than other types of photography because we have to be on call, but dealing with burnout and figuring out a way to get past it is so important to make sure you bring your best for both yourself and your clients!
IAPBP is a genuine community of talented artists eager to connect with expectant birth persons. Behind the scenes, our community of artists also support one another by sharing resources to grow themselves and their businesses. Learn more about becoming a member here.
Feature Image: Rewild Her