Willingness to See - Howard Snyder Fine Art Photography
mapleDuring the time I've been photographing landscapes, or making photographs in general for that matter, one of the biggest challenges I think we need to overcome, is that of letting go and become open.

No, I'm not going to get all new age and esoteric with you and tell you start chanting. What I mean by that is to learn to letting go of everything that you want to accomplish when going shooting (while still keeping that wish in the back of your mind) and relax and observe what's truly there. You see, when I first began going out shooting, I would get in my car with a mental list of things that I wanted to photograph. I would have all these mental scenarios where the light would be one way, I would have X,Y or Z foreground elements and everything would fall into place to create magic.

The reality is that life never works like that, and you always get crappy light, you can't find a single decent foreground element of course, magic is never there. Or so I thought. Once I was able to drop all pre planning and simply go to my destination, things began to change. I began to notice textures and colors in ways I'd never done before. I began to learn to appreciate that which was in front of me, instead of lamenting that which wasn't there. Even though, it was never there. It only existed in my mind's eye, due to an overly romanticized vision of what I was expecting to find.

My guitar teacher has an aphorism that goes: "Expectation is a Prison", and I couldn't agree more. So many moments lost in despair trying to "force" things for what we want them to be, instead of being willing to see what's truly there, right now, in front of our mugs!


Be willing and open to simply turn around and head back home with nothing in your camera. Be willing to accept that nature is chaotic and unpredictable. Once that fact sinks in, then shooting landscape and nature becomes really easy. You are no longer fighting for compositions, or feeling disappointed for not getting that amazing sunset that you once saw on a magazine or on someone's Facebook wall.

That doesn't mean to settle to shoot whatever the heck and lower your standards. You will still have to fail more times than you will succeed in order to get epic shots. That's why they're epic. They're our Moby Dick and to catch them, we will need to travel, be uncomfortable, pay a high price both in economic resources as well as time. But even in the more dismal situations, being out in nature beats being boxed in, in a cubicle inside an office. So, be willing to see, that in those situations, you are still being rewarded with something else.

However, if you are actually getting paid to be out on assignment to shoot a specific subject, then I do feel for you, because you are going to have to work the scene until you get what you must get. Just remembering what some of the Nat Geo photogs have to go through in terms of time on the field, in the most miserable conditions in order to nail the shot for the story... deep respect!

So, my unsolicited advise is this: be open, don't be afraid to let go and BE WILLING TO SEE!
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