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Learning Wildlife, Learning Patience | The View Finder

So I’ve been reading books by renowned wildlife/nature/landscape photographer Art Wolfe, and he opened my eyes to something that isn’t necessarily shown in most books. In his book ‘The New Art to Photographing Nature’ he shares his failure images, or the photos that he took until he reached “the one”. This showed me that even the most established photographers aren’t 100% on the ball every time, that they usually have more rejects than publishable shots. This got me to think about how we share our images (primarily online) and how we share our lives in general.

It is known without a doubt that social media is a double-edged sword. On one hand it connects us with people around the world we would normally never meet and allows us to discover inspiration and talent that might go unnoticed. It also only shows the 1% of peoples lives that they want to share, and in the realm of photography, we are only witnessed to the top 1% of photos, the truly top tier of top tier. This is damaging to the young photographer because when you are just learning how to develop compositions, for example; myself, there is a consistent voice in the back of my head telling me this photo isn’t as good as this other persons photo that got 10,000 likes. It is discouraging, and the worst part about social media is that all it is is base level classical conditioning, wherein likes are the treats and posting things is the primary task. This classical conditioning leads us to want more and more and more and we overthink and discourage ourselves from shooting because we constantly compare our images to others, even when they aren’t relevant. (I’m using 2nd person terms but really this is how I think.)

So when I am reading books on photography, it is refreshing to see the bad photos, or setup photos, because it gives you an understanding of the process that goes into photography. I was recently listening to a podcast where a landscape photographer will wait an entire day in one location and only come away with 1 “usable” photo in 100 shots. It is just how photography is, the moments pass so fast that if you aren’t ready, you have to wait for the next moment.

Another reassuring revelation was just understanding that even if a moment passes and I wasn’t there, it isn’t like a moment similar to that won’t happen again. We live in a world possessed by speed, the “I must become the first person to share this” mentality is dangerous, it causes more mistakes than good. It is in this speed where we lose our sense of self, and essence.

Slowing down and not overthinking about social media presence has allowed me to photograph with a more clear mind, I’ve been starting to notice that photography is about sacrifices and being in uncomfortable positions. I am embracing this fact because I do enjoy watching nature on its own, so why feel the need for speed when I have a camera in my hand? Now, I just take it slow, relax, and enjoy my surroundings, treating my camera as a companion, rather than a tool.