Every time I go out, I hope to come back with at least one image that I like. It doesn’t have to be a great, epic image that I will hang on the wall….my aspirations aren’t that high. I am happy if I have at least one image that I am proud of, that is visually pleasing, tells a good story, or I just like. The more I shoot and practice my craft, the higher the chances are that I’ll come home with something I like….after all, creativity is like a muscle that you need to keep in shape and regularly exercise.
My expectations also rise with the magnitude of the trip. If I’m just heading out to a local destination my expectations aren’t that high compared to if I travel hundreds of miles to a location. If I travel further and/or put more effort in to being there, then my expected rewards also increase. I try to practice self talk and keep expectations low, but I’m not always successful.
For the past two years, my co-leader and I have led a photo workshop in Katmai National Park photographing the Alaskan bears feeding on salmon. It truly is an epic trip, like a “bucket list” kind of trip for most. To get on location, it requires traveling most of a day on various airplanes and trucks to get to the lodge where we stay, then each day hopping on a float plane to fly in to the park and hiking to the shooting locations. It’s a commitment both financially and physically to get there, so for our attendees, and ourselves as leaders, we have high expectations for ourselves and hoping for the best for our clients.
As a leader, I don’t shoot much on workshops as I’m focused on helping others and keeping everyone safe, however I do shoot some and my expectations are typically high to come back with an epic shot or two. On our 2017 workshop, every day was an epic day….I’ve never had a trip quite like that with handfuls of amazing shots every day. For 2018, conditions were not quite the same as the previous year. It’s hard to repeat an epic experience after all. The clients all got some amazing shots, and I got a couple good shots that I liked, yet I was still waiting/hoping for an amazing shot for myself that would be different than the prior year. I feared that I might not come back with that “one epic shot” that I would be super proud of.
Well, towards the end of the trip it happened. I captured not just one shot, but a sequence of shots that is so cool and unique that when I saw them on the LCD I danced a little jig standing in a river full of salmon to the amusement of those around me. A bear was playing with it’s food and it picked up a salmon in its mouth, tossed it in the air and then swatted it with its hand. When I got home and was able to examine and process the images, I knew that these were “the ones” that made my trip. See below for the sequence of images….
Don’t get me wrong, just being outdoors and doing what I love is ample reward. Yet, we’re out there to capture images and work our craft and be “productive” so I do want to have something to show for the work I do. For me to feel successful, sometimes it is just coming home with the one shot (and the memories of the experience) that make an entire trip for me.
I am a full-time photo workshop leader based in the Pacific Northwest. If you would like to check out my workshops, blog, podcast or prints, please visit my website at www.johnpedersenphoto.com