Victory has many faces. For some athletes it might be already a victory to be part of the Olympic Summer Games in London, for others a place in the finals is a victory and for others the winning of the gold medal is the victory they came for. All of them experience that feeling only a victory or success can give, like being on the top of the world.
Fortunately in photography victories can be experienced more easily and more frequently. Every image we love is a victory. It gives us joy whenever we look at it, it can hang on the wall like a gold medal and tells others about our love for photography. Enjoy snapping your victories.
Isn’t it very interesting watching the more technical disciplines at the London Olympics like long jump, high jump and discus? The participants have a number of attempts for their jump or throw and they seem to need them. How must that feel having 4 invalid jumps and only 2 more attempts left? The most resilient athletes are able to cope with such a situation. They accomplish to focus again and throw out an amazing jump.
Photography is often like a 100-m final with no more attempts left, but there are plenty of situations where resilience is an important ability to have. Think of the simple task of photographing your dog. How much resilience does that demand? He is looking away, running off, putting his nose on the lens, biting the lens, biting in your trousers, putting his ears flat or closing his eyes and to make it worse he is enjoying the whole excitement and attention too. Well, this is a moment to practice resilience. Sit down, put the camera aside and let the whole situation calm down, for yourself and your dog. Let him go and he will start doing his normal thing, that what you actually wanted to photograph and then calmly grab you camera, stay in the background and shoot away.
All athletes at the Olympic Summer Games in London must be perseverant; otherwise they wouldn’t be there. They managed to set aside everything else, trained hard and conquered challenges in order to participate in this amazing event. And if they didn’t make it this time they have to wait for another four years for the next Olympics.
How perseverant needs a photographer to be? Although photography is easy accessible for anybody and a photo is taken with a quick click on the shutter, becoming a professional photographer, a photo artist or growing as a hobby photographer demands a high amount of perseverance. It can be a process of insecurities, doubts and setbacks before improvement and success arrive. The photographers at the Olympics might be just as perseverant as the athletes they are photographing.
It is very sad to see when a player from the Dutch women hockey team gets injured during the first training at the Olympics. Knee injury, over. All the training, commitment and sacrifices for nothing. At that moment there is not only physical pain, there is also a lot of emotional pain. The world seems to end at that very moment.
Is there a way to compare this situation with any situation in photography? There are no Olympic medals in photography, but there is also a lot of commitment, sacrifices and work done to create great images. And there are also moments of great pain, when all the efforts seem to fall into nothing. Finally being on the Galapagos Islands, these incredible animals eventually right in front of you and the camera is not working, broken. At that moment not only the camera is broken, but also the photographer. What to do now?
Allow the pain to be there, give it space and a moment to be. If you don’t, it will push through when you don’t want it to. By giving it a moment it will disappear quickly and you will have all your energy to borrow a camera from another photographer, put in your memory card, take some shots and explore the opportunities to repair or replace your own camera.
The short cut to disappointment goes through unrealistic expectations. When you are a man and you need 10.5 seconds to run the 100-meter and you expect yourself to be the gold medal winner at the Olympic Summer Games in 2012, you will be disappointed at the finish. Even if Usain Bolt falls ill that day, there are still others to beat you by lengths.
When you experience the feeling of disappointment in photography, ask yourself what you expected to happen and if this was realistic. Did you buy a new camera, expecting everything would go by itself now? Or did you photograph a house in the style you saw in a magazine, expecting that your image would be on the next cover? Reflect on your thoughts that lead to the expectations, what were they based on and what was the outcome. By doing that your disappointment will be converted into realistic plans to accomplish your photography dreams.
Some of the Olympic athletes look like they are in a trance when getting ready for the start. Swimmers wear already their goggles and headsets with music to induce an even deeper focus trance, blocking out all possible disturbing factors.
How about photographers? Isn’t a photographer in a trance like state when being connected with what he/she is photographing? This state of forgetting the world around you and focusing on the subject and light, walking around it to shoot it from different angles, discovering new perspectives and moving with the light. Photographers can enter this trance like state easily and that makes them vulnerable for dangers like cars approaching, balls flying around and more serious things, just because they wouldn’t notice. Be conscious about that and cover your back before you surrender to the pleasant trance of photographing great subjects.
Over 14,000 athletes are competing at the Olympic Summer Games in London to win one of the 906 medals. How many of them might have arrived with expectations to win a medal or even a gold medal and how many of these expectations were proved not to be realistic? Not all 14,000 participants can win a gold medal and expecting one can spoil the fun and great experience.
How many people are doing photography and how many of them can have their image on the cover of a magazine? Don’t spoil the fun and great joy of doing photography through the pressure of unrealistic expectations. Enjoy your photography and show how you see the world through your amazing work.
You probably associate immediately diving with depth, depth of field, depth in the picture. Yes, photography has a lot to do with depth. In psychoanalysis diving into the ocean is associated with descending into the subconscious. As a photographer we are surfacing the colorful under water world all the time by visualizing emotions, feelings, moments and ideas. A photo is always a dive into the soul of whatever moment is captured.
Don’t forget to play. Photography’s strength is playing. Play supports creativity and lets art evolve. Play inspires and opens space for innovation. Rest and relax. Recharge creative energy for exciting photographic events to come, although you might not know about them yet. Wouldn’t it just be to bad being too tiered to photograph the Olympics when suddenly asked to do so?
Some assignments might be like a 100-meter race, others like high jumping and others like a marathon. Find out what kind of athlete you are. Don’t try to run the marathon when you are a sprinter and don’t do high jumping when you are afraid of height. Find your strength and go for it. You wouldn’t do underwater photography, if you couldn’t swim, would you? Unless you want to learn how to swim.
You might feel sometimes like being on an endless climb, followed by a scary decent into endless roads through boring landscapes. Endurance on physical, emotional and mental level is needed to make it to the finish. Keep your spirit high and listen to your body. Maintain your bicycle, your physical health and have a spare wheel. Find likeminded to make a great team.
Photographer’s life can be a wild river, fast and with obstacles hidden in the waves. Hold the paddle steady in your hand. Steer your canoe through the stream of challenges with a sharp eye and don’t panic when you go head under. Use your strength to surface again and steer past all the obstacles into calmer waters.
Don’t you feel sometimes like boxing your way through thick walls to success? Think of your footwork and stay flexible and be fast in response, move quickly and protect yourself. Don’t give up to easy, you can get up and win. Be careful with your health and don’t take unnecessary risks. A picture of people shooting with guns looks the same 50 meters behind the front line. You don’t want to be famous, because you were knocked out.