Tuesday, October 24, 2017

You Always Have Your Camera

Given the explosion of photography media, I would bet my life that most photographers have another job or some other means of income. I would also guess that a large number of those photographers want to be full time photographers, a life of sustainable passion. If you are one and maybe just starting out, you have a long road of hard work ahead of you. I have traveled this road for over ten years and what keeps me moving forward is that nagging desire to be a full time photographer. I have traveled at a moderate pace with an occasional sprint and very brief rest periods in between. I've encountered road blocks, have taken a detour now and then, and might even have backed up a little once or twice. But, overall I have made forward progress toward some intangible goal that might one day allow me to be a full time photographer.

You never know what you'll find around the bend.
I have to say though, that I would be perfectly happy with a photography hobby and nothing more. But somewhere along the way, I learned I could sell prints to strangers. I also learned that once you make a sale to someone that is not your best friend or sibling, you've come to a crossroads. At that point, I decided to move forward and was already thinking about the second sale. The nagging desire to be a full time photographer motivated me continuously, mainly because I simply wanted to be out there in nature with my camera all the time! But, as I continued forward, it became less about photographing for the sake of photographing, and became more about the work that goes into marketing and getting your photographs seen and sold. Despite all the time that went into that stuff, I always found time to get out and shoot.

Many mornings have been spent waiting for a sunrise to bring dramatic colors & clouds to reflect on the water. This is one example of hundreds of images taken where I did not quite get what I wanted.
Of course, things don't always go the way we want them to (life, am I right?). The weather has sucked lately and worse yet, hurricane Irma imposed a significant challenge. My RV (part time home) on Chokoloskee Island was destroyed by Irma. For the past two years, the RV was my home base located conveniently so I could easily access several photography locations within the Ten Thousand Islands Wildlife Preserve, Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Forest, and many other locations on the gulf side of south Florida. Consequently, I had built up some portfolio momentum during that time. And then it ended as quickly as it started.

Sometimes, nature presents itself in unexpected ways. When looking for wide open spaces, we sometimes find our inspiration in those simple intimate scenes like this one.
In a good way, the set back has freed up some of my time to do other things that needed to be done, such as preparing for the upcoming art festival season. And it is this temporary detour that has really made me realize what is truly the steady force behind this long journey. It is not the sales or winning contests. It isn't about getting published or starting a YouTube channel. It isn't about exhibiting at a gallery. Those things happen sometimes, but these do not make up the steady force that keeps me going. In fact, it's not even about 'getting the shot' that drives me forward.

Figuring out how to capture oyster bars on Chokoloskee Bay became a mission. Beauty is in there somewhere and I had to try to capture it.
Instead, this is what it's all about. It's the desire to be there in the moment with the camera, regardless of the outcome. It's about that discovery of something; a place, a mood, a tree, a perspective, a bird. It's about experiencing the natural surroundings and being open to it. It's about the inspiration we draw from it and the intense focus that follows in order to create an image. It's the unrelenting patience we seem to muster when we are out in nature.

Nothing like birds to test your patience. Thank you birds for teaching me so much.
All that other stuff we have to do to advance our business or reputation is secondary and of no concern when we are in the moment with our camera. It's creating something with your camera that started the journey and it is the only thing that will be there consistently throughout the journey. I cannot wait to get back out there.

Experiment, try something new, simply play. Approaching photography in this way allowed me to capture these whirly bugs. Who knew they would be such wonderful subjects!