Recently I was out on a shoot and ran across another photographer sharing the early morning light. As usual we struck up a conversation about the available subjects at this location, what was good and what wasn’t. I was surprised to hear that there was really nothing to “shoot around here” especially since I had just spent the better part of the last hour capturing some of my favorite shots! Now I should say from the outset that I am not a world class photographer but I have won several contests with my captures. So to hear a statement like I just heard was a little unsettling.
One of the first things I learned as a budding photographer ( and still am learning) was that there are things to shoot all over the place! If you can’t find anything to photograph you are not looking hard enough. I once tried an exercise where I planted my self and forced myself to look 360 degrees from my location and find something new or different. By doing this simple exercise I was training my eye to pick out new things or maybe the same things seen from a different angle. It was really amazing to see that I could find the odd and fantastic anywhere around me. One of my favorite subjects is the Snowy Egret
which are found just about everywhere around this area. It is easy taking a picture of these comical creatures using any camera you may have. For me I like to take it a bit further with these birds and I’ll wait for the ‘odd shot’ moment before I press the shutter. For example, I love to photograph these birds while they fish. They move back to and fro sizing up the pond looking for breakfast and when the time is right they STRIKE! Head and all goes into the water, splashing and scaring anything that happens to be near them. Many times I have walked away with nothing but the memory of being there but there are days when I get a great shot that is “wall worthy”.
If you are going to pick up a camera you really must have the mindset that you are going to simply not settle for the average “snapshot”. Now snapshots have their place but if you truly desire to find the unique you have to get low and become part of your subject. Find out what makes it tick or what makes it special and then capture that moment. Also become your worst critic! By viewing your own work with a critical eye you will begin to see an improvement with your shots and by all means, shoot for your own pleasure. In the final analysis what you capture must be pleasing to you first; no one else matters (even the most discerning editor). Someone once said that if you love what you do, it won’t even feel like a job but will become your passion.
Finally keep looking for the shot! There are thousands of things right in your own backyard to shoot. Get on the ground, get muddy, become one with the subject and click that shutter!