If you pay attention, you will find that you can learn life lessons from many adventures, encounters, and experiences. I have found that, for me, the life lessons learned from photography are some of the most meaningful and profound. Among them are:
There is a lot to learn in photography and life in general. The best way to approach both is like eating an elephant; one bite at a time with enough time to digest the first meal before attempting another. Often the perfect photo is just a matter of waiting for the right light or action and no amount of rushing will help.
I have returned to the same place time after time to finally get the desired image. Often perseverance can produce better results than having the best equipment. I started a business in California that struggled for years barely staying alive. Many times I considered folding it and going back to work for others. After six years some of my competitors did fold and I was still there to pick up the new business. As profits rose we expanded until we covered the whole Southern California market, and came to the attention of a large national company who made me an offer that I didn’t refuse. Today that company is the largest of its kind in the world. If I hadn’t earlier learned perseverance and patience from photography, I may have never tasted the fruits of financial success.
This one I seem to have to learn over and over. Going out on a shoot, only to discover that your camera battery is at home in the charger can be a humbling and frustrating experience, sort of like running out of gas in the desert. Behaving like a good Scout and being prepared certainly makes life easier, and photography is a constant reminder of that fact.
Just as every coin has two sides, every heated issue has more than one side. Photography teaches us that it all depends upon how you look at it. One photo subject can produce a thousand different photos depending upon your point of view. Next time you are in an argument, you might try walking around and looking at it from the other person’s perspective.
I have long felt that I see the world differently as a result of my photography. Finding beauty in the ordinary is a gift that makes life bearable when everything is going wrong. I thought that I had a fairly good eye for composition and what made a good photo, but losing half the sight of one eye has given me even more appreciation of what is before my camera. My life is much richer because of photography.
It has been suggested that I add this to the list. I must admit that while I have maintained a passion for photography longer than any other subject, I am fearful of passion. When passion comes in the door, reason often flies out the window. I see photography as a very reasonable enterprise. Can they mix? Well, in order to get up before dawn on a cold winter morning to capture a sunrise shot, I have to love photography, or I would simply stay in bed. Passion is the fuel that keeps me going when it would be so much easier to quit.
Perfection is rarely, if ever achieved, but those people who settle for “good enough” in their life, or in their photography miss an important part of being human. Everything and everyone can be made better and the passionate pursuit of perfection sets us apart from all of the other animals. In the process of chasing illusive perfection we can actually catch excellence.
Doesn’t begin with a P but is too important to leave out) What we focus on is what we see. If we focus on other people faults they will become sharper and bigger until that is all that we will see of them. Or we can choose to focus on their qualities until their faults blur into obscurity. Which do you suppose makes for better relationships?
By Jack Harwick, 2013, photographer, aerospace engineer, entrepreneur, architect and inventor.