Have I Taken My Best Shot Already?
Last week I said that I would share the last of my Postcards from NYC series with you, but you will have to wait a week for that! Instead, I want to share some thoughts about my last three excursions shooting while my memories of them are still fresh. Last week I was in a funk. I feared that I had already captured my “best shot” and that all my shots to come would just be average. How could I elevate my game so that my new images didn’t blend in with all the other pictures of cappuccinos and selfies?
Two Sundays ago I co-led a photowalk around downtown Vancouver. By most accounts, the day was a success. We had 20 eager participants, the weather cooperated (which was a small miracle as we had received 14″ of snow just two days earlier), no one got lost, and we had a great time socializing at a local restaurant afterward. However, I came home with very few images I was even remotely happy to have captured!
I had spent several hours before the walk photographing on my own, and another two on the walk itself, and had shot on the one-hour skytrain commute in both directions. Almost six hours of shooting and nothing to show for it! And as I was shooting, I kept thinking what am I doing here? Am I really any good at photography? What if I have already taken my “best shot” and all the rest are just going to be mediocre? My thoughts were taunting me, playing with my mind, and my images reflected my feelings of inadequacy.
Have you ever felt that way? That your “best” shot was behind you? Well, I wallowed in my self-pity for a day or two, and then it hit me. Photography is not just about “the shot” it is also about the experience. So what if I don’t come home with winning images every time I go out shooting? The world won’t end, there will always be more light on another day to craft photographs. After all, a runner isn’t expected to win every race she enters. On that Sunday I met new folks who shared the same passion as me, reconnected with old friends, and had a lot of fun. I needed to keep my day shooting in perspective.
The Right Head Space.
Four days after the walk I was sitting at the kitchen table finishing up an article. The sun was out, and it was creating that lovely contrasty low winter light that begs you to photograph it. I promised myself that I would get out as soon as I finished writing. Time with my camera would be my reward. But on this day, I made a conscious effort to do more than just click the shutter. I took more time to enjoy the fresh air and the walk. And I listened to some music as I shot. After spending 90 minutes with my camera I came away with five images that made me smile. What a difference from four days earlier.
Picking Up Your Camera Should Bring You Joy.
Then, this Saturday I participated in another photowalk. More great weather, time with friends from my photography club, and more incredible light. On this walk, I approached it with the same attitude as I had my short adventure on Thursday. I didn’t just take pictures. Instead, I spent time strolling and getting to know new members of the club. I shared some tips with novice photographers in the group. The afternoon wasn’t just about getting the image; it was about connecting with likeminded photographers and learning from friends in the club. I had an excellent afternoon.
Oh, and did I mention that I came home with a dozen keepers!
My New Best Shot!
I’ll leave you with these thoughts. Make sure that the time you spend with your camera isn’t just about the pixels. Don’t worry so much about the end product, instead enjoy the process of creating. If you do this, those keepers will come naturally.
One last thing, from the images I shot on Saturday, this one just may be my “best shot” ever!