Saturday. 4AM. Out of bed well before dawn. A groggy drive to the airport. Several hours on a plane. A multi-hour drive through unfamiliar territory. The main draw today is sunset along a rocky stretch of coast. And the sky is as clear and as blue as I've ever seen. Not a single cloud.

As a landscape photographer, I've grown to accept I may leave a location without "that shot". You have (and should) put a significant amount of time into planning a photo trip. And now the plan is put into action. However, planning only takes you so far. Factors beyond your control can (and do!) spoil the best laid plans. I'll come away with photos for sure. Many of which I'll like a lot. However... "that shot". The shot I envisioned. The one I planned for. The treasure. It's an elusive thing.

It can be frustrating. Good light is at sunrise and sunset. Accounting for travel time, composition scouting, setup time... there's less hours in the day than you think. A mid-day nap isn't always possible. On a multi-day trip, that equates to quite a bit of sleep deprivation. Sometimes, I'm living out of a car for a couple of days, surviving on cracker jacks and tap water. Or shivering when temperatures drop far below the seasonal norm. Or hurt – scrapes, bumps and bruises come with the territory. I've been fortunate not to have had any major injuries. I know other photographers that haven't been so lucky. And after all that, you might get the light, you might not.

You may wonder... to do all that? Going in knowing there a good chance to walk away without a keeper? For me, it's because the journey is worthwhile in and of itself.

I never come back from a shoot sullen or depressed, cursing the day. Never. Am I ever disappointed? Sure, sometimes. But no regrets, no "it wasn't worth it" attitudes. I usually come away with shots I like. I always learn something. And when I do get that keeper, they are all the more special because I know they are rare events.

Panther Creek Falls, Washington /  Buy a Print

Panther Creek Falls, Washington / Buy a Print

It sounds corny, but I'll say it because it's true – just getting out there to make photographs is rewarding for me. Looking beyond the camera, I'm out in nature, usually in a beautiful place. It's quiet, peaceful. I'm breathing fresher air, getting exercise. Visiting new places. Slowing down and experiencing life. To get a little Taoist, "the  journey is the reward".

Keep shooting. Get fine shots. A few keepers. And don't overlook the journey. 

/ October 2014 /