If you have ever planned a photo shoot or spent time waiting for the absolute right time to press the shutter, then what I am about to say should not come as a surprise. It is inevitable that you will miss a shot, forget to change an f-stop or have something go wrong during a photo shoot. For the photographer that could mean re-planning the shoot or waiting until the moment presents it self again. Yet, it may mean simply giving up and trying again another day hoping that you learned from your mistake and vowing not to make the same mistake again. Planning for and being prepared for any eventuality is just part of the job description for anyone wanting to make photographs for a living.
Recently I was out making photographs in Orlando WetlandsPark, a tranquil piece of Florida nestled in the town of Christmasabout 35 minutes east of Orlandoand I was spending a lot of time “shooting” this Red Shouldered Hawk Juvenile. Those Hawks tend to hang out in the same spot in the Wetlands and I was fortunate to having him “hanging out” while I was there that early in the morning. Light was perfect, the sun had just risen and the warm orange light bathed this Hawks perch perfectly. He was doing all the right things; he looked from side to side, he scratched his head, he puffed up his feathers and he let out his piercing cry seemed to go on forever letting the residents that he was awake and looking for breakfast. (I imagine most of the furry little creatures were not as excited as I was!) I knew that at any moment he would spring off of his perch in search of some unsuspecting little varmint to devour and I wanted to be ready!
Funny thing about the Wetlands, there is always something interesting to look at. It could be a flock of Black Bellied Whistling Ducks, or the resident American Bald Eagle as it buzzes the water looking for fish, or an American Alligator strolling across the gravel roadway in search of better waters. When you are a wildlife photographer something will always be lurking in the shadows, so to speak, that tempts you to take your eye off the mark… and I let myself get sidetracked. I was getting impatient and I let my gaze wander; and when I did turn my focus back to the Hawk I had lost track on what he was doing. It was then that he signaled that he was ready to go, a quick turn of his head and he leapt into the cool crisp morning air, off to parts unknown. My finger was not ready on the shutter button and I missed the shot I had been waiting for. Now I have taken hundreds of photographs of that exact same take off with great success but that is not the point. At that moment I wasn’t ready and I allowed myself to get distracted. Fortunately my morning’s shoot wasn’t ruined and I went on to make some great photographs of that glorious park.
In the Gospel of Luke Chapter 12, verse’s 39-40 we read, “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.” Jesus doesn’t tell us when He will come back or for that matter when our days are over. We could die when we least expect it and pass into an eternity without God because we were not ready. God has made a provision for us, 1 Peter, chapter 3, verse 18 says, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God. He did this because there is nothing that we can do to earn God’s favor. We are a sinful people and deserve God’s wrath, but that wrath was poured out on His Son so that you and I could be forgiven.
You see, all the planning in the world won’t save you from the inevitable and unlike photography, there are no re-takes at judgment. Confess and forsake your sins, and embrace Jesus by faith, who alone is the way to God, (the Gospel of John, Chapter 14, verse 6). Sometimes, God uses the little things around us to teach us great truths that otherwise might be lost and it has always been my wish that my photography would be used by God, in some tiny way, to draw us all into His presence so that we can learn from this marvelous ‘Canvas’ that He has created for us.