Mark Alberhasky looks at life and other distractions, and how to motivate ourselves to get out with our camera and shoot
The mere words, “cod liver oil”, bring a grimace to the face of anyone who has firsthand experience with a spoonful. For those of you without this fond memory, just understand that it’s about doing something you know you should, even though you’d rather not. How could that relate to taking photographs, something we all enjoy, you’re asking? Read on and get your spoon ready…
Most of us (and I include myself in this group because I’m not pushing a shutter button 365 days a year to earn a living) have the luxury of doing photography on a whim, because it’s fun. Even if some of you want to imagine me as a hard core photo addict, the truth is I have days where I know I should be shooting, but either are too distracted by other life events, or simply want to kick back and be lazy. The problems with this are (a) life is shorter than you think, (b) you’re going to miss some great photo ops, and (c) life is shorter than you think.
All kidding aside, it’s human nature to get waylaid now and then. Life happens and we all prioritize. But the take home message of today’s tip is not about those days when there really is something important commanding your attention. Instead I’m sharing an insight that every one of us was smart enough to understand when we were about 8 years old. As we’ve “grown up” and become responsible adults, we don’t pay much attention to this feeling any more. What is it I’m referring to?
It’s the “I know this is good for me and I should do it, but I really don’t want to” feeling. It comes in different flavors, from the lame, “Yeah I should, but I’ll just do it tomorrow” version, to the autopilot, “Holy c*#p, the idea of doing that scares the hell out of me, NO WAY”. The physical sensations that go with these states range from the little nagging sensation that makes you rub the back of your neck and say “nahhhhh, not right now”, to a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when faced with a real challenge. But remember, right now we’re just talking about doing things related to a leisure activity that brings us pleasure. So I won’t try to convince you today to overpower the “NO WAY” urge, and agree to photograph a wedding, or volunteer to speak in front of 500 people. Perhaps I can shed some light on the other end of the spectrum though, and get someone to think the next time, “I AM going to get my camera, make a little time and take advantage of this opportunity.”
Even as I write about it, I still fight the same battle you do. Last week I got a call from one of my favorite clients, asking me to submit new work. Some times this is an easy request to fill, but on this occasion I hadn’t been using the particular camera they were seeking images from, so I came up short. There was a window of several days to go out and shoot, but I had other things on my mind (my wife and I are planning a move, putting our house up for sale, juggling issues with our two sons, and getting ready to leave town for three weeks). I KNEW I should make time, take several hours and shoot some new work, but it was just too easy to say, “I’m really busy.” I let the situation fester until there was but one day left. I actually sort of ignored a suggestion my wife made (OK, there I said it), about shooting an antique car show, not subject matter I’d normally be excited about. But as I drove by the display of old cars one more time, I realized I had been suppressing that little voice saying, “Here’s the opportunity right in front you; you ought to be doing this.” So I decided to invest one hour wandering around the show. If nothing happened, so be it. I also asked my wife to touch base with a neighbor about shooting her grandchildren (make that photographing some children). Once I got out the door and had a little momentum, the worst was over. I found a few interesting things to try with the old cars, and nailed a great portrait of a young boy later in the afternoon. But it was a real coin toss as to whether I was going to try this shoot or not. Now I’m very happy I did (and I hope the attached photos make you agree it was worth the effort).
So, now do you see how this is like taking your cod liver oil?
The next time you “really know you should”, but are trying your best to find excuses to put it off, think again. The hardest part is just making it out the front door.
Mark Alberhasky Photography