Get wet, get the shot
Among the exceptionally varied experiences and photographic opportunities which present themselves each day in the life of a travel photographer certain patterns arise. Although the locations change, the general subject matter is limited to some degree. As you can see from the galleries on this website, photos tend to fall somewhat neatly into categories like landscapes, food, portraits and wildlife, and within those categories lie a recurrence of circumstances to be prepared for.
There’s something very interesting that happens once a camera is in front of my eye. Any morning, two hours before sunrise when my alarm goes off, I can convince myself not to leave my bed; that the weather will be bad, the photographs will not come, and I’m better off sleeping. Before any assignment I can find myself loathing the responsibility and commitment, wishing for an afternoon off. But something changes once the moment is upon me. When I have my equipment in hand, and a great photograph in my head, absolutely nothing will stand in the way of me translating it to sensor. My aching, overtired legs will find themselves energized, my frigid body will warm up, my illness, if I have one, will be miraculously healed for the moment, and my desire to avoid the uncomfortable elements will vanish entirely. At no time is feeling this more manifest than when water stands between me and a photograph.
I don’t know why it is that some of the most beautiful things on this planet exist in or over water, or furthermore why that water is almost always absolutely freezing. I have taken to only wearing clothes I can get wet and dirty when planning to photograph these subjects, as I’ve found that in my excitement to capture the moment, all thought and cautiousness are tossed aside as I blindly rush into the waves. In fact I’ve even taken to repeating the mantra “camera first” in my head while doing so, to remind myself that should I be blasted by a wave or lose my footing, I must remember in the confusion of the moment to hold the camera and tripod far over my head above all else before worrying about my safety or comfort, a practice the few people who have witnessed it will certainly attest to (I’m looking at you Bobby).
If you find yourself removing your jacket in a storm to cover your camera, dashing into freezing ocean waves, belly-crawling through a limestone cave or climbing buildings in alleyways just to get the best angle, you can be sure you have an undying passion for photography. Any time a week of bad weather and missed shots gets me down, it is one of these moments that reminds me I’m alive and doing what I love. So go get wet, get dirty, get hurt now and then, and most importantly get the shot. This too shall pass. Eventually you’ll be sitting in a warm, dry hostel, with a freshly cooked lamb steak, writing a blog post. When that happens you’ll be happy you’ve got a story and some photos to show for it.