Time to Think of Photography as an Act, not as a Hobby
If you're like me, you have a love/hate relationship with photography. You love it but, sometimes, photography can be so frustrating! Sometimes you feel so dependent on light and weather, your ability, and even your gear. You can see that shot in your head, but you just can't make it work. Then, you start doubting yourself and wonder if you should persevere with this gig. Well, if you've ever found yourself in these circumstances, read on... We might just have a solution for you!
As with any hobby, you devote time and money and energy to learning new techniques and honing your skills, improving your equipment and joining clubs and social groups. The hobby becomes more than just a hobby. This can be positive, after all fulfilling your passion is everything! It can lead to friendships formed over a shared love and can have a healthy effect on our lifestyles. Think how we go exploring just to take photos! We also exercise the part of our brains which we need to keep agile – we use complicated software and think about our camera's functions and settings. We also use our creative side – we feel the shot – we think in colour and form. We allow our minds to expand and consider art and nature and concepts.
Sometimes though, we burn out. We strive for perfection. We view our work in terms of 'if only'. If only I could have taken that shot with that person 4 inches to the left, if only the shadows were not quite so deep, if only the weather on the day was better. We might have the most beautiful photo of a loved one, but their eyes are not so sharp. We might compare – skill, vision, creativity – with others and feel like we fall short in some way. Some of us might even think we'd take better photos if we could just afford a different lens.
Have you ever thought about picking up your camera and just enjoying photography for the act of it? Immersing yourself in the feeling it gives you. The placement of your hands on the familiar grips, the reassuring weight of the camera, the sound of the shutter, your field of view through the lens. Photography can be Zen-like if you think about the moment rather than the outcome. Breathe and relax and enjoy the environment.
If you love birding, or people, or cooking – enjoy that activity for what it is – a simple pleasure – a way to connect, a chance to calm your mind, a chance to breath. Then take the photo of what you see and feel, don't think about your work being judged, or the need to produce something for a competition. Think only of light, or shadow, of mood, of contrast. Clear your mind and allow your subconscious to compose your shot, your fingers to find the settings of their own accord. Some people think they are only technical and do not have any creativity but love photography for the science it is, but all people have the ability to create. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it does have to be fun. Think of the joy of a child with a crayon – they are not afraid to draw because it might not turn out right.
Don't strive for the perfect shot, make the moment perfect.