If there is one thing I have learned about photography over the years it is you can’t just wait for the perfect timing to go “out to shoot” because most likely that will never just happen. Of course this is true with just about anything in life, if it is something you want to do, you have to just find a way to integrate it into your current routines, patterns, and seasons of life. That goes for just about anything you have an interest in pursuing.
Photography is a powerful medium that allows us to capture moments, emotions, and experiences in a visual form. It’s a skill that can be honed and perfected over time, but one common misconception is that you need the perfect setting or ideal conditions to take a great photograph. In reality, the key to improving your skills as a photographer lies in the ability to shoot wherever you are, regardless of the circumstances.
I try to live out this notion. In fact I’ve tried to live this out for the past 30 years or so, but it isn’t always easy, especially when you are with other people or groups of people, and even more so when it’s taboo or “frowned upon” to take a quick photo.
Last week I had a dinner scheduled in another city and made time to arrive early to get a few images. These would fall more into the genre of street photography, but I was just thrilled to get a chance to shoot someplace different.
This sorta works with everything, but in the realm of photography, some of the things I try to keep in mind when shooting anywhere and everywhere comes down to:
Embracing the Mundane
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that only grand landscapes or special occasions are worthy of capturing. However, some of the most captivating photographs can be found in the seemingly ordinary moments of our daily lives. Whether it’s the play of light and shadow on your morning coffee or the reflections in a rain puddle, there is beauty to be discovered in every corner of our world.
Make Use of Available Light
One of the most crucial elements in photography is light, but for the most part, there is always at least “some” light at any given point. Instead of waiting for the golden hour or perfect weather conditions, learn to work with the light that is available to you. Experiment with different times of day, various lighting sources, and shadows to create unique and compelling images. Cameras today can shoot very well in almost complete darkness, so even very minimal light will most of the time be adequate enough to shoot. You can also learn how to shoot in the dark, it makes for some very dramatic images.
Composition is the foundation of a great photograph. Whether you’re shooting with a professional DSLR/Mirrorless body or a smartphone, the principles of composition remain the same. Take the time to study leading lines, rule of thirds, framing, and other compositional techniques. Apply these principles to your everyday surroundings, and you’ll start to see the world with a photographer’s eye. The image here of Jordan-Hare Stadium was a quick practice in foreground placement, making layers on the image as it went back and back to the AU.
Learn to Adapt
Life is full of unexpected moments and changing environments. As a photographer, it’s important to be adaptable and open to new opportunities. Embrace challenges like adverse weather conditions, crowded spaces, or low light situations. These circumstances can often lead to some of the most unique and memorable shots. On this shot I literally pulled over on the side of the road and got out as soon as I saw the sun bursting into the super heavy fog. This image isn’t perfect, but I made the quick decision to stop.
Document Your Journey
Photography is not only about capturing the world around you, but also about documenting your own personal journey. Use your camera as a tool to record your experiences, growth, and emotions. Whether it’s a self-portrait or a snapshot of a place you visit frequently, these images serve as a visual diary of your life.
This image was actually taken by me on my motorcycle riding next to Deborah. I love that this image was taken with a disposable 35mm film point and shoot camera. It’s always been one of my favorite out of almost a million images, and it was literally just a snapshot in time when we rode down to the keys on our bikes.
Experiment and Innovate
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new techniques or styles. Take risks, push boundaries, and let your creativity flourish. Some of the most groundbreaking photographs have been the result of daring experimentation. Never stop innovating and trying things that will probably fail. I tried this set of oil and water and it turned out pretty well. Not something I did a lot of after that, but it was still a unique image.
So, I guess my encouragement today would be to just start incorporating photography into your everyday life. It is not only (or maybe ever) about capturing beautiful images, but also about cultivating a deeper appreciation for seeing with fresh eyes. By learning to shoot wherever you are, you’ll find that every moment holds the potential for a meaningful photograph. Grab your camera or smartphone, and start seeing the world through the lens of a photographer. Remember, the perfect moment is not something you wait for—it’s something you create.