Heading up to my buddy Eric’s lake home this weekend for Photofest. He, his friend and colleague Kevin and I have done this before and it’s been great.
The problem with having great gear and a high degree of interest in photography means that your family and friends are *always* agitated as you linger trying to set up a shot on vacation. “Come ON Dad” the kids shout and my bride acts graciously as she patiently waits for me.
The problem is this: photography is all about seeing and you can’t see unless you’re completely present in the moment. If there are feelings of urgency, guilt and other emotions tugging at you, the shot is hurried, the composition isn’t its best and thus the experience isn’t one I want to repeat.
The cool thing about this weekend’s adventure being photography is that our sole purpose is to simply be and take whatever time is necessary to shoot. After stumbling across the now deceased former Senator Barry Goldwater’s photo site, my absolute knowing about being in Arizona — by myself with no distractions or people tugging at me — is something I will do and soon. My plan is to go the state I’m beginning to love deeply and drive around for a week or so doing nothing but experiencing that place and seeing it and its people….really seeing it and attempting to capture it photographically.
There are lessons here for anything we do. Not just lessons on presence, but lessons on how to see. If you concentrate you’ll see, but if you open yourself completely to the place, the moment, the problem, the people, and feel yourself stepping back to observe, it’s stunning what unfolds.
One example: on our last Photofest we headed into a state forest in northern Minnesota. Eric and Kevin headed off on a lakeside trail to shoot and I said, “I’ll think I’ll stay right here and see what unfolds.” The clearing I was in had been logged and new growth made it look decidedly non-photogenic! They looked at me quizzically but understood and left me alone.
I began to see things in the clearing as I slowly opened myself to what was there: a fungal growth on a tree that looked like an old man’s face; a rusty coffee can with bullet holes in it that was beautiful in the late day sun; strange plants that looked amazing when shot in macro; a woodpecker’s hole in a tree that — with good depth of field — looked like a cave in the side of that tree. This was the first time I’d really opened up and I’m pleased with at least a dozen of the 100 or so photos I took that day. That experience taught me a bit about what it takes to really see the beauty in everything and in an area I would’ve overlooked in the past as I chased the perfect setting…which doesn’t exist anyway.
About Steve Borsch
Connecting the Dots Podcast
Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.