Somewhat Analog Things About Photography

Life As A Hobby Photographer With Two Small Children

I'm a photographer. I don't get any money from it so I'm what you would call a hobby photographer. I've had this hobby for, at least, 13 years ( I'm super old at 30 now ).

A bit more than 3 years ago I had time to go out and shoot whenever I felt like it. I could choose any place. Any amount of time ( Within reason. I might not get away with a month long photo project where I sit alone in a room and take photos of an ever increasing pile of beer bottles. For art reasons. ). Not that I always took advantage of that - but the opportunity was there!

Three years ago my daughter was born. And two years further - my son. This impacted things somewhat. They might not appreciate walking all day on hot city streets where I try to take this black and white photo of a woman walking over a road ( because as a street photographer - you must ). And I might not appreciate spending the night trying to take a picture of stars in the sky next to an abandoned building ( because as a landscape / astronomy photographer - you must ) when I can't spend the next day sleeping.

Black and white photo of an old lady walking over street in very harsh light.

Here's my photo of a woman crossing the road. Taken in olden times when I used to live in a different country and only had a girlfriend.

Camera: Fujifilm X100 ( the OG ).

Most of the time that I'm not working is spent with my family. And don't read that as a complaint. It truly is great. But sometimes...sometimes I want to take pictures and call them art to everyone ( mostly just my wife - but my daughter has taken interest in my photography as well now! ). I could just go and "do photography" when my brain tells me that it is required - but my wife might not appreciate having to keep spending time with kids alone. And my children might not appreciate me not taking them on my trips just to come back with a picture of a flower with an insane bokeh background.

Picture with two red flowers with a highly blurred background.

I think you'll agree that this is a picture with a flower ( or two ) with an insane bokeh. Taken somewhere around 2012.

Camera: Pentax K-x

Lens: Probably Pentax 50mm f1.7

I also have other hobbies that are not really relevant for this site. But because they also require me to stop spending time with my family - I had a bit of an internal "creativity" crash as I couldn't express myself as I was used to.

Luckily ( for me and photography in general! ) photography is quite flexible. Whilst I couldn't partake in the art of photography like I used to - there were new ways I could explore the photography world and keep the time with my family.


The first approach for me was GAS - Gear Acquisition Syndrome for you who are lucky enough to have not suffered this truly hard to treat infection.

Picture of Leica M3 in black and white.

Yeah. Don't say anything. GAS definitely impacted me. I do however really enjoy using this camera.

Camera: Sigma DP2 Merrill

It's a scary street in a photography city. But oh so wondrous! Just be prepared to pay the entrance fee. But it's so nice to walk on! And walking fee. Look at that building! And looking fee. And the air is so fresh. And breathing fee. And...

I've always liked physical things. To find out how they work. What are their flaws? Their best assets? And so I started buying photo gear. You don't really need much time for this. Just a couple of hours on Ebay and credit card. Hardly takes any family time. If anything you'll get more time as you won't be cooking as you won't be able to afford any food after GAS takes you on this trip.

Sure - the family participants are not very involved with you on this. But they enjoy seeing how I open the boxes! And they can build forts with boxes now! And other things from boxes! In reality I'm doing them a favour by doing this - just think of the possibilities with those cardboard boxes! And bubble wrap!

Yeah, so I was buying cameras. And that really helped to scratch my photography itch. I was mostly buying older cameras. Comparing them with other cameras. Reading of similar cameras online...and getting them as well. And as nice as it was - there were some issues:

  • It doesn't really require any creativity from you. You get a thing that someone else has made and you obsess over it. Sure you could buy broken gear and try to fix it up ( and I did do that as well ) but ultimately that turns into a separate hobby that's different from creative photography.
  • At some point - there's too many boxes.
  • Just a slight issue with cost. Yeah. Slight issue.
Picture with some broken cameras in front of window being covered in rain dropplets.

I had some fun taking apart cameras and attempting to fix the ones broken. Not all of them were actually fixed - some of them live in a permanently disassembled state in a box. But I had my successes.

Camera: Leica M9

Lens: 7Artisans 50mm f1.1

So whilst GAS is enjoyable - luckily I felt the need to explore some other avenues of photography.

Analog Photography

Next natural step for me - knowing that I had all this gear - was to go into film photography. I had done film photography in the past and have been known to shoot film from time to time. So I started shooting mainly film and also started developing it. I had done film development in the past as well but that was 10 or more years ago.

Photo of a unknown origin building on a large field in front of rising sun.

Film files might not have the crispness of digital files - but they have character that is difficult to match in digital.

Camera: Canon Model 7

Lens: Canon 135mm f3.5 LTM

Film: Kodak Ektar 100

In terms of time investment - it's very easy to just develop a film or two when children are sleeping. Just look at the thermometer and flip development tanks whilst listening to a podcast discussing next cameras you need.

This sadly involved the little brother of GAS - gas. I had to buy all development gear, some films and chemicals. So still buying stuff but at least this resulted in more than just gear worship. Actual photographs were taken as I didn't really want to develop an unexposed film. Which leads to...

Documental Work

This is the approach I recommend to other people in my situation as it's the most beneficial to your photography progression and doesn't require any money investment ( no GAS, all brakes ).

It's just documenting the life around you. It's not purposeful photo walks or trips with the intent of taking pictures - it's just living your life as you already are...just with a camera near you.

Picture of my daughter standing in rain water with a full sized reflection of her seen in said rainwater.

Just a regular day with a random walk around local town to playground area ( which is not hugely fun in rain ). We would go on this walk whether I was going to take a camera or not. Just a regular day in not so great weather made into a pretty cool looking picture ( your mileage may vary ).

Camera: Pentax MZ-5

Lens: Pentax SMC 50mm f1.7

Film: Fujifilm Reala 100

This means I can spend all time with my family and just supplement it with some pictures.

I initially resisted this because today almost all people have a camera always ready to be used - the smartphone. People take so many photos that it's easy to drown in them. You get bored of seeing the smartphone photos because ultimately - they are largely all the same just with different faces. There's nothing necessarily bad in that - they can still hold value to the people taking them ( and maybe even to some of the people they get shown to ) but to me this seemed like a boring way to take photos and the results were even more boring.

Picture of my wife holding my son and pointing at my daughter whilst they all are next to the greenhouse entrance.

Just a picture taken during family life. Not staged. Events unfolded naturally. Just happened to take a photo of it.

Camera: Leica M9

Lens: Canon 50mm f1.8 LTM

Luckily something clicked in the brain and I understood that you can still be creative in taking documental family photography. Just don't burst shoot all interesting moments. Try to make ordinary things more interesting in the photos. And generally just try to think of interesting ways to make everyday life interesting in pictures. And that truly seems creative for me - or at least the itch doesn't scratch anymore.

Family Trips

Sometimes though, just staying in the relatively close area around your living space does get "photographly" boring and it starts to feel that you're documenting the same shots again. This is where small trips, not too far away from your living quarters, come in.

So we just look at the map and the world wide internet to try and see some interesting places to visit which are family and small children compatible. Maybe it's some small local town. Maybe it's a lake. Maybe it's a random field that looks interesting on a map.

Wintery and frosty looking photo of a lake covered in light mist and trees in further distance.

You might luck out and your short trip might happen at the exact time where a pretty nice photo can be taken. We went to a very nearby lake one morning in the winter and it was quite magical.

Camera: Sony A7s

Lens: Zeiss 55mm f1.8

Sure you might not go there in the golden hour. It might be harsh sunlight. It might be dreary and gray looking. But that doesn't matter - it's always possible to take at least one somewhat interesting photo and the whole process of it makes "at home" documental work fresh again as you reset.

Keep in mind that it's easy to go overboard. These trips might start to feel like old times where you go to a random place and spend the day shooting it. So you might start to ignore your family whilst out just to take some photos. You might choose a place a bit too far away where people get annoyed in the car. You might choose a place that might not be small children compatible ( swamps and strollers don't typically go together well I "have heard" ).

Photo of a swampy area with a thin wooden path on the right side of it.

I'm not going to say that this area is not stroller compatible so I had to go only with my older daughter who can walk very well. I'm not going to tell you that part of the road to this place had fallen into a small river so I had to carry said daughter to this location for about 3km in one direction. I'm not gong to tell you that the weather wasn't the best for taking photos so they didn't really turn out that great.

The important thing is that me and my daughter spent a great day outside and I got to take some photos.

Camera: Sigma DP2 Merrill

But if you're mindful and focus more on the documentation of the trip instead of taking photos of the place - it's fine and it works well.

A Healthy Mix Of All

Ultimately - I just mix all of the above in reasonable amounts. It's like constantly playing with control sliders. And I don't think there's one perfect mix as you are a constantly changing creature so sliders need constant adjustment.

I still buy the occasional camera or lens ( I just try to also sell things ). I still try new film emulsions and developing techniques. I still take daily shots of my family. We still go on trips. And more...

Black and white picture of my wife holding our son and eating something.

Here's a combo approach shot. Taken with a GAS bought camera. On film. On a trip to another childs birthday. And the style of photography is documentary. It ticks all the headers!

Camera: Leica M3

Lens: Summicron-M 90mmF2 ( pre-asph )

Film: Ilford HP5+ ( expired 2007 ) EI800

This Website

Similar to how using a limited camera makes you think differently and may actually lead to you creating more interesting shots - forcefully limiting your creativity output pathways can lead you to finding new ways for expression.

I doubt that I would get so into analog photography if I didn't have children. I just wouldn't think to try it so deeply.

Similarly another expression of this creativity is this website. It's something I can do at home and free time slots. And I don't think I would've started it if not for my children. I can use the GAS for some good and give out some ( potentially controversial or wrong ) opinions about the gear that I have used. I can express creativity by writing ( which I don't think I'm that good at - but on the upside it can only improve ) and by creating this weird looking website "design".

I hope that others will find this website interesting and will gain something from it.

At the end of all this I realise that I likely am more photography-diverse than I was before and the graph of my photography skill spiked with the birth of my children.


Having small children meant that I couldn't spend time on my photography like I used to. Where some doors close - new ones open. I have found new ways to express photography that has made my photography experience more diverse and interesting. This website is one of those doors that have opened. Now read the whole thing.


Biggest thanks to my family for supporting me in my photography related troubles.

Photo of my family.

The best family a hobby photographer could hope for.

Camera: Leica M9

Lens: Summicron-M 90mmF2 ( pre-asph )


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