Photography 101: Stop and Enjoy

This is going to be an unusual post for me, as instead of breaking down some type of technique or photography secret sauce (there is none; incidentally), I am going to tell you to do something completely different. In a world that is connected by glass lines that transmit data at the speed of light and where news happens on a minute by minute basis, I will tell you to stop. When is the last time you put the camera down, and enjoyed the scene outside of shutter speed, correct white balance, and aperture settings?

Hence, my article will be brief this week, spurred on by a recent visit with my in-laws. I see my in-laws a fair amount as they live a little over an hour away. What was different on this visit was the knowledge that they are in the process of moving hundreds of miles away, separating my wife and I from them by two full days of driving. This means that what little time we can easily spend with them now becomes ever more important.

I had packed a bag full of gear and toys with every intention of shooting various spring photos during our visit. The tulips are in full bloom, the Magnolia tree had gorgeous flowers at the ready, and the weather was spot on for some great sunset shots. Yet, I never unloaded my gear or snapped a photo. No, I spent the day enjoying the conversations about things I cannot recall now. I stopped thinking at four frames a second and let one long exposure rule my mind. I had stopped to enjoy the moment.

It doesn’t matter if you are a street photographer, a landscape shooter, foodie, or even a portrait photog. Stop and let the moment sink in! Enjoy the life that is happening around you every once in a while. We tell all kinds of stories with our images and get wrapped up in the technicalities, yet when was the last time you let the camera just go unused so you could enjoy the scene, uninterrupted by the sound of a shutter?

My challenge unto you is simple. The next time you are out and enjoying the same scene you have captured time and time again, let the camera stay still, let your mind develop the scene, and enjoy the fundamentals of why it is that you brought the camera in the first place. Listen to the world, watch kids run on a sidewalk, or talk for a few minutes with the person with whom you will take portraits. Five minutes of letting your mind process the image maybe all you need to see your ordinary scene in atypical light.

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