Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lose Yourself For Better Photographs

Pacific Sunset - Morro Bay, California
"As I was capturing images, making several attempts to get the waves as I wanted them, I noticed that I was the only one photographing Morro Rock. There were plenty of others on the beach with cameras, including some with expensive DSLRs and lenses--their gear on tripods. As far as I could tell, they were all photographing the sun."
For those wondering, the photograph at the top of this post is the sunset that I was talking about. I felt that the decisive moment for Morro Rock had just passed, so for a minute I turned my camera's attention to the sunset. In the post I continued:
"The sunset that day was nice, but it wasn't particularly spectacular. The clouds weren't in the right place to really show the colors. It was above average. I captured a few frames of it myself. The real show was just to the left of the sunset, a little out-of-frame for those photographing it. And the show only lasted a couple of minutes."
As you can see, the photograph of the sunset is good. It's not the greatest sunset that I've ever captured, but it's certainly not bad, either. The flocks of birds in the distance add a bit of interest. It's a nice "bonus" image to me, but it's not as good as the photograph I captured just two minutes earlier of Morro Rock.
Sunset At Morro Rock - Morro Bay, California
The lesson here is to not be so rigid in your approach to a scene that you miss the best image that you could potentially create. I have a pretty good post on creativity on my "other" photograph blog that touches on this. In that post, under the title Lose Yourself, I said:
"With regards to capturing photographs, Henri Cartier-Bresson said, 'You can't go looking for it; you can't want it, or you won't get it. First you must lose yourself. Then it happens.'
"How I understand what he was saying is that great scenes often just happen. No matter how badly you want to capture a great scene, it's not usually within your control. You can't control Mother Nature or what other people do. What you can do is immerse yourself into the scene and keep an open mind about what you might find.
"Losing yourself means keeping an eye out for photographically-worthy things, even if--especially if--it may not be obvious at first. You cannot be rigid in your approach and you cannot be rigid in what you will capture. Rigidness is not conducive to creativity.
"In other words, stay loose. Keep an open mind. Be open to spontaneity. Celebrate unpredictability."
I wasn't rigid in my approach that day. I was able to lose myself in the scene and capture what no one else had noticed. I was able to capture Pacific Sunset at the top, and also the real prize Sunset At Morro Rock. 

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