It’s late afternoon and I’m headed to a location that should have interesting subject material to photograph. Did I leave enough time to get there? Is the weather going to cooperate? Is the light going to be right? Will I even make it in time to set up before the light hits? More importantly and most unnerving in the back of my mind the biggest question hits, “Will I even be able to find something worthy of photographing?” This important question isn’t about physically finding something, it has to do with mentally being able to see something worthy of photographing and showing to others.
The hardest part of photography happens before the shutter even clicks. It’s easy to fret over logistical concerns, but my biggest source of anxiety is not being able to mentally picture a photo worth taking and showing. Consider this stage fright for an audience of one, the twilight zone of a photographer’s universe.
Over time I’ve tackled insecurities about technical concerns, but without fail this one powerful question always creeps into my mind on every shoot. The “art of seeing” is about experience, practice, breaking habits, but most importantly clarity of mind. Whether out in the field or in a studio it is the same, idle time fuels doubtful thoughts. As soon as I step foot into the environment I am photographing this anxiety inducing question is quickly drowned out. Why? Because what I photograph and “see” is a reflection of my passion. What I love to photograph I know inside and out. Even if I didn’t have a camera in hand my natural curiosity and mind’s eye would fill my brain with ideas when immersed in an environment I love. The best trick I learned when in an environment I may not love, but need to get the shot is to extrapolate ideas and techniques I’ve applied in “loved” environments in new environments.
Whether you’re new to photography or if you’re a seasoned professional I am 100% certain you’ve had this doubtful question creep into your mind. While it goes unspoken because we’re either too proud or insecure, we’re all in the same boat and subject to the same self doubt. Just be sure if fuels you, rather than consumes you.
Recommended & Related Reading
- One of Photography’s Great Paradoxes
- Pro Tip: Always Check the Views Behind You
- Nature, Creativity and Seeing Plus
- Two Quotes of Note On The Topic of “Art of Seeing”
Clarity of mind means clarity of passion, too; this is why a great and clear mind loves ardently and sees distinctly what it loves.
French mathematician, physicist (1623 – 1662)
I’ve always taught that everything that goes into the photo is done before you press the shutter. It’s all being there, the timing, stance, framing, settings etc. Once you’ve got that the photo is made, Pressing the shutter just completes it.
Hey Jim, not sure how you got in there – but get out of my head man. Well done nonetheless!
I’m with Mark – very well said indeed. In fact, I’d love to dig into this deeper – how to overcome my apathy, which [for me] is the cover for doubt! anxiety, fear…