Your Photographs Are You?
I packed my camera bag, filled the bottles with water, and studied the map. Checking the weather forecast left me uninspired. It was about 10 pm, the plan was hastily thrown together. When deciding what time to get up the alarm was set for 6 am. A lie-in for Landscape Photographer. And if you're a landscape photographer, you may have realised I wasn’t fully committed to the shoot.
The alarm went off at 6 am. Checking the weather app didn’t ignite the spark to get me out of bed, double-checking through a gap in the curtains didn’t help. There is no excuse I can use. And deep down I know that not going out leads to a dark path of regret and self-pity. I know I’m not alone, as the edge of dawn slides across the world, the pattern repeats 1000’s of times an hour. But there are a few in earlier time zones already on location, capturing great photographs.
I went out, a bit later, a bit slower, motivated by negative thoughts. Thinking “It’s too late anyway”. Predictably I couldn’t see the compositions. The angle’s wrong, the lightings too harsh, the composition misbalanced. We all know the photographs are waiting to be found. And so a little self-doubt gets thrown into the pot. I’m not good enough and my photo’s are crap. That’s when you start to think it never happens to “those” other photographers; you know the Instagram superstars, YouTube personalities.
Off course it's not true. I don’t and neither will any other photographer be able to take your picture for you. I’m not a worse photographer because others seem to be better. Your photos are you. Think about that - Your photos are you - you see, hear, and smell the world around you, every sense is engaged in making photo’s whether you are conscious of it or not. Your photos are a reflection of you.
So if you go out under a cloud of self-doubt, defensively blaming the lighting, the weather, and not having the best camera you won’t see a composition, and if you do, you’ll probably go through the process robot-like expecting a rubbish outcome. Remember your photos are you. Surely your state of mind must affect the images you take.
I started thinking about all of this when I made a recent video for YouTube. YouTube adds even more pressure, not only are you looking for photographs, but you want to deliver interesting, entertaining content for your subscribers.
After searching for waterfall compositions I continued my journey in the woodland. I was moving on with a photograph in the bag, one that I thought had some potential. It always seems to go that way, once I have taken a photo, the pressure to make the next is less, and better compositions and ideas start to flow.
Following the track into the wood, led me deeper into a photographic blackout. The trees all looked the same, no foreground, no focal point, nothing. Apart from this one tree thatbstood on the path blocked my way and asked...
What are you going to do? Carry on? Or give up?
The Tree was split into two branches at its base, quite different from the others. It stood prominently on the path and challenged me. That's when I had finally had the revelation, the weather, the landscape, other photographers are not the problem. It’s my state of mind. Rather than enjoy exploring new tracks, new locations, I was looking to justify why I shouldn’t have gone out.
Not staying in was never an option for me. So failing to commit the day before, not reminding myself that this is the very best thing I could be doing right now, was never going to let me enjoy the experience and see the photographs.
And I met the challenge from the wise old tree as any self-respecting Landscape photographer would. I shot it. (In black and white) So next time I plan a shoot, I hope to remember the wise old tree and commit, left branch, or right branch. There is nothing in the middle and at some point, you will have to choose anyway.
So when I say “Get out, get creative and enjoy your photography” at the end of my YouTube Videos I mean it!
You can see more of my photography, and start a conversation with me at a shed load of online locations:
Brian Northmore Photography Website
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Brian Northmore Photography Workshop