Tuesday, February 18, 2014

In Photography Attitude Is Everything

Image of Luka Esenko, dedicated photographer,shooting sunrise on Dixam Plateau in the Homhil Protected Area, Socatra island, Yemen.
Luka Esenko, one of tour leaders (along with Jeremy Woodhouse) shoots a sunrise on Socotra Island.

The Importance of Attitude
On my recent trip to Yemen and Socotra with Jeremy Woodhouse and Luka Esenko, I was reminded again of the importance of attitude. While travel can be great at exposing bad attitudes, and emphasizing the importance of a positive attitude, what was really brought to my attention on this trip was the importance of attitude in photography.

Believing You Can
They say that if you believe you can, or if you believe you cannot, you are probably right, and that is what I experience on this “adventure/travel” journey. A number of times we would find ourselves in a given place or situation and I would look around and think “nothing here to shoot” (don’t get me wrong, those times when I didn’t see the opportunities were the exception on a fabulous trip for photography). Then Jeremy and Luka would be shooting like crazy. Sometimes watching them would help me realize that there was indeed something worth shooting and I would dive in. Other times I would just shrug and stick with my assumption that any effort expended on my part would be a waste.

Impressive Photographs
Later, when I saw the results of what both Jeremy and Luka were getting I realized that they had indeed gotten some pretty impressive photographs…even to the point where I was a tad envious and kicking myself just a bit. Granted, I have a very mercenary outlook and often these beautiful images wouldn’t seem particularly saleable…but beauty for beauty’s own sake is still worthwhile, and I have also come to realize that pretty much anything can sell and that figuring out what will sell, or more accurately what won’t sell, is almost impossible!

Bad Attitudes And Failure
I remember once when shooting an annual report with a designer we arrived at the location and no sooner had we stepped out of our car than he began to moan that we were screwed, that there wasn’t anything worth shooting.  Now I had been to worse locations than that, shooting by myself for that very same designer, and he had always loved what I came back with. But that was not the case on this day. We did not get a single image that he like during the whole day’s shoot!  I don’t really know the intricacies of that whole dynamic, but I do believe that his bad attitude was a major part of why we failed to get our shot that day.

Taking On The Challenge
The next time I find myself camera in hand and thinking “nothing worth shooting here” I hope I remember to kick myself in the butt, change my attitude, and take on the challenge of finding or creating something beautiful no matter the circumstance.