I took my camera everywhere—and I barely shot anything.

I’ve been struggling with what to write lately. After I wrote my 7 Things I Love About VSCO article a while back, I received my first really big dose of views to my blog. Views are like a drug… once you get that hit, you want it more and more and the only way to get more is to go bigger. I started this as a personal blog to just share my feelings and all of a sudden I feel like I need to write to some make-believe audience.

This morning alone, I wrote three different drafts of articles dealing with huge topics that I deal with… Why do I shoot? What makes my photos worth looking at? How do you get people to even look at your work when a million plus photos are uploaded every minute? I would write them and give myself the advice that I would give someone else but it just felt so preachy and repetitive to all the other motivational photographers out there.

Sidenote: Motivational photographers, is that a thing? I used to call them workshop photographers but I think I like this better.

This has bled over into taking photos, too. I’ve barely shot anything in the past month because I’ve been so hung up on who is going to care about the photos I took. I look at these different photo groups and Instagram and the people who get lauded upon are those who take the same photos of Iceland/New Zealand, styled model shoots of young women and hipsters, or someone’s awesome life. Again, it’s like a drug… you see what gets noticed and you think that’s what you gotta do to get noticed.

So I’ve kept taking my camera with me everywhere, trying to shoot something, but I usually come back with an empty memory card or a handful of disjointed photos that are barely better than what I took with my iPhone.

This past weekend, I had a few hours to kill in Gainesville for the morning and I had my camera with me ready to go. On the drive up there, my wife and I passed the most beautiful sunrise with fog rising off pastures and lakes in such interesting ways. We didn’t have time to stop so we just had to enjoy it… but when you’re looking for that kick, you feel like you’re passing up photo gold.

When I dropped her off and I was left on my own to explore, I was just stuck. I met up with a friend of mine who I haven’t hung out with in a long time and we walked around Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, a place that I really love shooting at normally. My 50mm f/1.4 and the late morning sun didn’t inspire me. I took one photo (the flower shot in the slide show above) when I saw this really nice patch of light hitting it beautifully. That was it!

We headed back to Ocala a little later that afternoon and stopped by the Paines Prairie walkway on 441 just to snap a shot of how beautiful the blue sky, white puffy clouds and swamp of purple flowers below looked. I grabbed my main camera and took a few shots (as seen above in the rest of the slideshow). At the end of the dock/walkway, there was a five-foot alligator hanging out below… surrounded by an old dirty piece of clothing, a plastic bottle, and a glass water bottle. And I just sighed, shaking my head at the thought of how selfish people are throwing all of their trash out of this thing this nature outlook. It makes me so angry.

And that was that. I had about six photos I was happy with total and here I am trying to figure out what to write about worth anything to go with it.

Shooting without a goal is tough for me. When I started trying to go pro, one of my own personal reasons was because it would give me a reason to shoot. Writing this out, I don’t know if others would question why I even wanted to shoot in the first place if I had a hard time shooting without a purpose before that. Other than loving to take photos when I do shoot, I don’t know if I have a singular answer. It was a way to connect to others, I guess.

I’m still searching for what I want to shoot. I have a list of personal projects I’m working on, but spontaneous photography is something I have to keep working on. I’d love to get a smaller camera (that Sony full-frame mirrorless dropped a lot last week) but throwing money at gear doesn’t strike me as the solution—just a nice diversion.

As I nervously get ready to post this, I’m feeling good about what I wrote after all those other drafts. And so I’ll keep taking my camera with me for that moment when I get inspired.

1 Comment

  • I hear you! When I go on my evening walks, I bring along my DSLR (what?!) & my iPhone just in case I come across something interesting to shoot (I try to make use of whatever time I have to myself to shoot something for myself and still pack in some exercise). Sometimes, I see something interesting and I manage to get a shot. Most times, I return home with nothing. I guess that’s like shooting without a goal in a sense. I wasn’t shooting for myself much last year due to commercial projects. But hopefully with the quiet Winter season, I can focus on this a bit now.

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