A Condition of Not Being Likely or Probable

One of the great pleasures for me is listening to folk who attend my courses talking about why they take photographs – and more importantly what’s their thinking behind it. Let me give an example: I was talking to someone about a technical issue regarding a particular shot they wanted to take when the conversation inevitably moved to why we take the photos we do. The person in question said that they took photos of what they liked depending on what was ‘available’ on the day. What they meant was that they initially intended to go out to photograph invertebrates but if they couldn’t find anything suitable then they’d switch to photographing birds. Sounds great! So I played the devil’s advocate and asked what they would do if there was nothing to photograph at all i.e. no visible wildlife? (it does happen!). The response was: ‘Oh, I’m sure I’d find something.’

Good answer? Possibly.. but to me it seems to highlight a widely held belief that some parts of our photography are outside of our control. In other words we are at the mercy of the environment and can’t do anything about it. Tough Luck eh? Best call in at the nearest watering hole and drown our sorrows. Let me try to explain this: If it’s pouring with rain with strong winds and bitterly cold and the forecast says ‘same all day’ then why would I want to go out and try to photograph anything (other than the weather)?… I wouldn’t…it’ll wait. Why would I want to put myself in that position – getting soaked, cold and miserable in the hope that I might just get a shot of something?

The real point of all this is planning. I don’t get in my car and randomly go somewhere in the vain hope that it might be nice. Experience tells me that in general I’ll end up somewhere quite pointless after a wasted journey. Mmmm! The message is really quite simple I think.

Plan your photography and stick to the plan. And always have a back-up plan… just in case. Photography is not a random occupation. At least I think it shouldn’t be. If I want random then I can use my ‘phone to take pictures or my small pocket-rocket compact camera rather that haul expensive gear around with me just ‘on the off-chance’.

Bonne chance, mes amis!

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