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The One That Got Away

I would have gotten that shot if not for this, that and the other thing. It's easy to come up with excuses and point the finger at something or someone else. But it's the photographer who makes the photo.

When you're out shooting, things do happen of course. It's axiomatic that not everything is within our control. Particularly when shooting outdoors, it seems sometimes as if very little can be controlled. As an example, the reason they have weather forecasts is because the weather changes. You may be hoping for a beautiful sunrise but wake up to rain showers. The one thing you can count on is that the weather won't stay the same for long. And even if the weather doesn't change today, a lack of precipitation six months ago may have changed how early the snow pack melted, resulting in fewer flowers blooming today. Everything is related and very little can truly be forecast with complete certainty. Things aren't random of course, but neither are they entirely predictable. But you knew that.

Circumstances may vary. Indeed, you can pretty much be certain they will, given enough time. It's the nature of reality. Sometimes those changing circumstances may impact your photography and other times they may merely provide a convenient excuse if your images don't come out as you'd hoped. Either way, the responsibility for reacting to whatever you find when out shooting remains with you.

Even if the unexpected does interfere with what you had planned, you can't realistically abdicate your responsibility for creating the best image you can. You knew before you went out shooting that things could happen. When it does, pointing the finger at external circumstances is to pretend you didn't know things could change and impact what you had planned. I mean, you knew they could up front, right?

When conditions aren't exactly the way you thought they would be, how do you react? Is it not your fault when it rains or do you have some responsibility for not having backup plans in case it does?

So you're out on a photography trip and things don't seem to be going your way. It's worth considering whether or not the cause of your difficulty really does lie elsewhere or whether you're just using that as an excuse to deflect responsibility. If camera shake ends up blurring the image, it's not your camera's fault. No, understanding what cases camera shake and taking steps to prevent it is clearly your responsibility. A better camera or a better tripod may help, but even if so it remains your responsibility to find a solution before your next trip. Even if you did the best you could this time and failed, it just means you need to do more next time or look for a different shot entirely. It's up to you. If you're shooting under tricky lighting conditions, whose job is it to take those conditions into account, yours or that of the sun and shadows? Blaming the lighting or the weather doesn't help you learn as a photographer. Doing your best to acknowledge responsibility for the outcome of each one of your shots does.

After all, it's the photographer who makes the photo.

Date posted: February 1, 2015


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With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
A Tale of Two Photographers

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