Four Things Photography Has Taught Me

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1. Patience.  It has never been my strong suit. Yet it is absolutely required to first learn photography, then to exercise what you’ve learned. I used to get frustrated because I couldn’t make the shot happen – the one that I envisioned within my mind’s eye. Now, I try more often (it’s still a work in progress) to let the shot come to me. I wait, and I breathe, and I let things happen organically rather than try to force them. It’s much better for the quality of my photography to allow myself to be in the moment, rather than be in a rush to capture the moment.

This is the Beehive Geyser in Yellowstone National Park.  We came upon the location a half-hour before the geyser went off.  If we hadnt waited, we would have missed this.  It was more impressive than Old Faithful.

This is the Beehive Geyser in Yellowstone National Park. We came upon the location a half-hour before the geyser went off. If we hadn't waited, we would have missed this. It was more impressive than Old Faithful.

2. To SEE the world, not just look at it.  There is just so MUCH out there. So many moments to capture, so many layers of meaning, so much artistry to be found in every aspect of this planet. I take a bit of extra time, now, to really see what I’m looking at, absorb it, and try to understand it better. I try to define just what quality it is, within the scene or object that I’m looking at, that makes me want to take the picture.

I happened to glance in a shop window, and saw how detailed the beading was on the moccasins, how the turquoise glowed against the wood.  I saw, because I was looking.

I happened to glance in a shop window, and saw how detailed the beading was on the moccasins, how the turquoise glowed against the wood. I saw, because I was looking.

3. The extraordinary within the ordinary.  Every day brings something new and special and poignant. You don’t have to be in an exotic or picturesque location in order to find something “deserving” of a photograph. Even what you consider to be mundane, day-to-day occurrences or sights are worth recording in a picture. Some day you will look back on the ordinary days, the “uninteresting” photos, and remember what it was like to be living in that moment in time. Those can be the most precious memories of all.

A bucket, seafood crates, and a shovel.  Ordinary sights in my hometown in Maine, but seen like this, becomes a still life shot of the culture.

A bucket, seafood crates, and a shovel. Ordinary sights in my hometown in Maine, but seen like this, becomes a still life shot of the culture.

4. Confidence.  I have it, now. I’m not shy to go after the picture I’m looking for. Sure, I’ll drag my tripod out in public. I’ll ask for permission to climb up, go around, stand on top, get closer. I’ll answer questions about technique and composition and why and how, and occasionally be surprised that I know the answer. If I don’t know the answer or haven’t learned the technique, I know that I have a firm foundation of understanding and will learn what I need to know. I tell myself I CAN, instead of “I’m not sure.”

I had to get right up in front of the stage, and kneel down, in a very crowded venue, to get this shot.  The Old Me would have been too shy.

I had to get right up in front of the stage, and kneel down, in a very crowded venue, to get this shot. The Old Me would have been too shy.

What kinds of things has photography taught you?

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