Photography: Why You Should Trust Your Instincts

You have your camera in hand as you stand in silence in the woods. You are alone. Not a sound of humanity exists. Only the echo of distant rolling thunder announcing an impending summer storm. You see the simple beauty in the gentle decent of a raindrop. The tactile experience, like a sudden caress. Your camera is ready. You take aim and shoot. Click. Your breath is a subtle vibration. The soothing wind inspires you to lift your eyes to the sky. Your camera rests at your side. The sky is changing, swirling. A passionate embrace of clouds and air. Suddenly, the skies open to embrace you with rain drops. You open your mouth in shock at the unexpected decline in temperature. You even giggle as your skin reacts with goose bumps. The drops increase in somber intensity. Rather than to run for shelter, you quickly move your camera to your face, for this is the moment you have been waiting for.

You eagerly capture the delicate descent of drops through the canopy of leaves. Not by capturing a wall of moisture, but by focusing on the details of what happens to each drop. Capturing the changes in the trees and air around you. To document the moment of serenity to share with others. Photography with the essence of nature, despite the weather, that many would avoid.

What is so special about this moment of surreal documentation of rain? It is the soul that was carefully crafted into the photo. The unique presence imbedded into the image. To have seen the rain and choose to capture it despite the unimaginable amount of similar photography is what inspires. To see the beauty in even the simple moments is ideally the way a photographer sees the world. There is no greater reward than to see such beauty with the intention to document it for those who you hope will one day be fans of your work or to continue to inspire those who already are. The purpose is to create and share a legacy for future generations.

Photography has the ability to capture the unique, bizarre and unimaginable. The moments in life that inspire us. The moments that inspire others. To share these rare glimpses of our life in such a profound way that no one will ever be able to grasp how the image was imagined, yet with their gaze they will feel as if they were there - in that moment. Despite the amount of photographers at a location, there will be countless variations of even a single subject. Whether it's rain during a storm, a statue in a cemetery or a portrait of a model - each photographer has their own unique vision to share. Sadly, due to the influx of photographers, it's becoming harder to stand out. The question is why. The answer lies in the failure to listen to who you are, what you see and follow your instinct.

As you stand among a crowd of photographers, most will follow the 'rules' of exposure and symmetry. To capture the 'perfect' shot. Yet, is perfection truly the harbinger of an award winning image? Will perfection inspire others? Maybe. Despite the possibilities, perfection will rarely be remembered in such a profound way as individuality. Many opportunities are lost due to the ill-fated attempt to copy another photographer's style, unique photographic endeavors or the very image that sets them apart. To choose to be someone you are not is illogical. There can be no pride at your accomplishments, no growth or sense of completeness in your work. Not everyone has the vision for every style of photography. Some are born to be wedding photographers. Others, fine art or nature photographers. Determining the subject that is our muse is far more valuable that duplication and being fake. Those who copy others without having a soul of their own will not be remembered. They will be another star lost in the sky. Without a name, no one will know to look for you.

So, how do you learn to trust your instincts? How do you convince yourself that what you 'see' as beauty is what should be shared with the world? You take an image that speaks to your soul. You love it. You edit it until you feel nothing needs to be changed. Perfection in the finality. A sense of protective instinct. It is not 'technically' perfect and perhaps the composition doesn't follow the rules or the exposure is off, yet - what you see is so inspiring, you must choose to override the doubt. For it is not perfection or lack thereof that makes the image unique. It is in having the skills and instinct of knowing when to capture perfection and when to bend the photographic rules.

You must ignore the voices of others. No photographer, of any skill level, has the ability to hurt you unless you allow it. You must override and ignore the fear that tells you that others will judge you. The fear that you will be criticized and risk feeling failure. In truth, to hold yourself back and choose to ignore your instincts based upon fear will be what prevents your work from growing. Despite the possibility of negative criticism, you must know when the time is right to share your vision. It is true that some words will be of benefit, but those purposefully spoken to break you should be ignored.

Focus on your work and learn to hone your instincts much as a young tiger on the hunt. Ignore the competition unless you are able to learn from your differences rather than feel required to duplicate. Take the time to be an individual like the unique photographers you idealize. Be the photographer who has captured their soul in every image. No longer a part of a collective, instead following your instincts.

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013 9:04 am

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