Friday, May 21, 2010

Persistence and Patience

Waiting to Be Called, 2010

My friend Betsy suggests that I use this space to write something about patience and persistence. This may be because we’re working together on an initiative that calls for a lot of both. What I Saw has never been a blog-on-demand. But since persistence and patience are both important in the practice of photography, I’m indulging Betsy here.

My father tried to interest me in golf when I was young. What with all the variables of different courses, different golf clubs and different swing techniques, he admired that golf was a pastime that offered an infinite stream of opportunities for incremental improvement if you had a few good lessons to get you started and maintained a schedule of regular practice through the years.

Truth be told, I never got hooked on golf. I didn’t dislike it. But as I got older it got harder for me to justify the time for it. There was just too much other stuff I liked more. But because I didn’t always have a lot of opportunity to spend time with my father when I was growing up, I played and walked a lot of golf courses with him in my adolescence and teens. Up and down mountains. On sandy plains. On old courses with tricky trees, and on new courses with no trees. If there was a golf course between Virginia Beach and Roanoke, we probably played it.

Nearly fifteen years after Dad’s death, I still keep a old set of his practice clubs in the garage because whenever I decide to shoot a few ancient range balls out into the river behind my house I hear his voice guiding my stance, my address of the ball and the placement of my wrists on the club.

There are, of course, lots of parallels between golf and photography. I’ve written here before about how my lack of persistence has robbed me of the opportunity to get really good pictures I wanted. I don’t think I’ve written much, though, about how patience has paid off in the form of good pictures. But it has.

Like golf, photography offers an infinite variety of things to do. You can wander. You can focus on just one item that fascinates you or use some kind of random method to select a subject if your imagination if running thin. You can force yourself to see things differently by using a single lens, or just one you don’t use much. You can use photography as an excuse for traveling to new places, or you can use it as a way of seeing things you never noticed before in your own backyard.

Something I’ve been doing lately is forcing myself to be more patient while taking pictures. Last weekend, for example, I went down to the oceanfront to see what there was to see. I didn’t want to repeat pictures I’d taken before. I didn’t want to just drive around and waste gas. So I decided to park the car in one place and see what I could do with what was in walking distance.

Fortunately, but unbeknownst to me until then, there was a juniors surfing competition taking place on the beach right where I parked. I didn’t have the right long lens with me for taking pictures of kids surfing. So I decided to sit or stand in one place, be patient, and see what passed in front of me.

The result is not great art. But I found an interesting array of things to capture with the camera. Just by being patient.

Fins to the Left, Fins to the Right, 2010

The Old Boys, 2010

1 comment:

  1. Hahaaa! These are great. Looks like you all had good weather as well at the beach. Great colors.