Mark Alberhasky looks at what it can take to get a great photograph. In the process he examines a state of mind which can produce great results in other aspects of our lives as well.
This photo tip has to do with learning how much effort to put into a picture, but it is also one of those “good life rules”, applicable to many situations.
“The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed.”
I recently had the good fortune to attend a photo lighting workshop taught by Joe McNally, a legend in the industry who work has graced virtually any great magazine you could name.
Besides the wonderful technical information I gleaned, it was truly inspirational to hear the stories behind how a number of his memorable images were made.
His take home message?
Don’t quit before your vision has been realized.
Sometimes this means don’t stop shooting until you run out of memory cards or you lose your subject. Other times it means don’t get stuck between having the vision in your head and getting the chance to push the shutter button.
Shortly after his workshop, I had the opportunity to take a high performance driving course with my two sons, a wonderful father – son bonding experience, but that’s another story. While I was driving on the racetrack, I couldn’t help but think, “There is a very cool image of speed here somewhere.” Now, when you are approaching a tight curve on a racetrack a 100 mph, this is not where your attention should be. Perhaps this is why I am safer behind a lens than a high performance steering wheel!
At any rate, I decided to approach the school administration and pitch my inspiration for a speed image on their track. They bought into the concept and tentative plans were made for a shoot the next day, at the end of the class session.
But by the end of the next day, I was tired, the driving instructors were tired, and while we waited for the track to become available, everyone disappeared. My initial reaction was, “Bag it. This idea may not even pan out and getting this to happen is going to be a pain.” I was a blink of an eye away from heading home. My son Brandon said, “Dad, you should make this happen.” And he was right. So I sucked in a deep breath, cajoled the drivers into suiting up, and we headed out on the race track.
My vision was 3 cars, tightly packed at speed, conveying the exhilaration of the track. I wedged my back against the back of the front passenger seat, and braced my leg against the back seat. I then hung out the rear window, from the waist up, backwards at 70 mph, while 2 Corvettes chased us around the track. Needless to say there are dents in my camera body from where my fingers gripped it.
The image rocks,
BUT, I was 99.5% ready to call it quits, when I was only a minute away from making it happen.
“When you’re ready to quit, you’re closer to succeeding than you think.”
Put this in writing and tape it inside the top of your camera bag. For that matter, write in on the wall of your office, on the door of your refrigerator.
Your best effort, and the success you envisioned, may just be one more exposure, one more phone call, or one more sit up away.
Stick with it til you get there.