The Discipline Of Photography
If you think about it, and I promise there won’t be too much thinking required here, photography is more than just a visual pursuit. Sure the vision quest is the end game, but for that end game to be effective there’s a lot more that should go into the overall gameplay. And just like Olympic athletes, preparation is the number one watchword for any aspiring competitor. Now you may not be in an official “competition,” but you are likely competing with yourself. There is probably always a desire to do better than your last image. You don’t want to show up for your “Olympic Games” with anything less than your best.
In this mini-series, “The Discipline Of Photography,” we offer ten (10) articles on mindsets and practices that we think offer the best chance for success when it comes time to press the shutter release. Ten (10) pearls of wisdom, if you will, that were hard-won through years of field experience, or that we have gleaned from our discussions with other photographic professionals. Hopefully, our knowledge and willingness to share can move you along to your photography goals just a little bit quicker than we reached ours.
Ten (10) Disciplines
So here are our Ten (10) Disciplines and our very tongue in cheek explanation of each one. They may appear a bit glib, but there is some thought behind each of them:
Discipline 01: Prepare For Failure
Prepare for failure, be sure you have everything you need when you need it.
Discipline 02: Intimate Knowledge
Got your attention now don’t we, don’t miss this one.
Discipline 03: Tread Lightly
We all have our limits; it’s not necessary to test them.
Discipline 04: Making Time
Spend your time wisely and invest the time necessary.
Discipline 05: Track Your Game
Great hunters don’t take the first shot they see; they take the well-calculated shot.
Discipline 06: Breathe In, Breathe Out
Clear your mind.
Discipline 07: Increase The Odds
Those who play Craps know that more is better.
Discipline 08: Move Or Die
Getting old can be done gracefully, but it requires alternates points of view.
Discipline 09: Take It Or Make It
Capture or create, in a lot of situations it is up to you.
Discipline 10: Powerbroker
Don’t underestimate your influence in making the deal.
There you have it, some things to think about in your quest to understand what we are saying. We promise it won’t be that cryptic when we get to each discipline, but hopefully, we have captured your attention for now.
While we are here, let’s go ahead and start with the first discipline:
Discipline 01: Prepare For Failure
Think about it, photographically you are going to fail. Shoot (no pun intended) that’s a part of the game, trying over and over again to get just the right image. So you know that that is a part of the deal going into this visual obsession, but what you did not bargain for was all sorts of other failures. And let’s face it, the bigger the stakes, the larger the failures become. So let’s think about some of the more common and more obscure issues we might confront in the field.
So here are a few that have bitten us all, dead batteries, missing or defective memory cards, missing cable release, misplaced tripod plate, flash sync cable, battery charger, and on and on.
Make sure your batteries are charged, heck make sure you have spares. Not just for the camera, but for the flash, the light meter, and any other device that uses them. The further we are from home, the more this matters, especially when international destinations are involved. Did you know, not all batteries are available globally, that’s a harsh reality 10,000 miles from home, but it is also a bite in some small town not too far from where you live. When on a workshop trip, it is not unusual for each of us to have 4 or 5 complete sets of extra batteries, fully charged and ready to go.
Memory cards fill up, memories cards fail, make sure you have a spare or two. Nothing more frustrating than trying to figure which images you can delete from your memory card when a scene is unfolding in front of you. By the way, and this is an aside, remember the faster the card, the quicker the images save, and the faster you are shooting again. Food for thought there…
Long story short, build yourself a pre-flight checklist. Okay that’s a pilot thing, but it makes sense, are all the parts of the plane ready to go, BEFORE WE TAKE OFF. I don’t know about you, but I like that sense of affirmation from the cockpit. Make a photo trip checklist, and make it specific to your gear. Do you have everything you need and do you have the things YOU MIGHT NEED, check.
Once you have thought about the things you can control, start thinking about those you can’t. Mostly we are talking about the weather, but and this is a very big but, try to figure, based upon where you are going, what could happen to you, while you are there, weatherwise. Weather is number one here, rain gear for rain (and not just for your camera, for you as well), cold weather gear for uh cold weather, lens cleaner for just about any kind of weather, and a stiff drink for you.
The more prepared you are for the elements, the longer you can stay out in them. The longer you are out in the elements, and your camera hasn’t failed from exposure, the more images you can capture and likely better ones at that. Lousy weather offers moody, dramatic photos, and they rock. Be a rockstar, shoot when others can’t and get pictures that others don’t.
Okay, one last thought here, and we alluded to it in the beginning. The higher the stakes, the better prepared you should be. Going street shooting in town, one camera, a couple of lenses, makes sense. Heading to Borneo, bring some spares, a spare body, spare glass, spare everything. Don’t have these items in your arsenal, rent what you need. Rental fees are a lot less than the $10,000 trip fee and the agony of no images.
It is likely that you are getting the idea by now. Start putting Discipline 01 into practice today, tomorrow you’ll be happy you did, day after that you can send us a thank you check. See you out there!