Life Lessons Learned Through Photography: Just Do It

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Greetings home slices, In this series of videos I’m sharing 7 of the best life lessons I’ve learned by being a photographer, and right now I want to talk about those little nagging doubts we all get when trying to decide whether to go for something or not.

Lesson 2: Just Do It!

Hmmm, could be a good sunset tonight? But then again, maybe not. So hard to tell tell…is it worth going out to shoot??

Here’s an easy way to tell if something is worth doing: JUST DO IT.
A lot of photographers, myself included, spend as much time talking themselves out of shooting as they do into shooting. I get it: your time is valuable and you don’t want to waste it on a wild goose chase, or a wild light chase as the case may be. So you start to ask yourself questions like “How are those clouds looking?” “What’s the forecast say?” “Is the storm going to break in time?” “Where’s the best place to be?”

Ostensibly questions like that aim to help you make an informed decision about whether or not to go shoot. But the hidden purpose of these questions is to cast doubt on the idea of shooting in the first place. After all once you start to ask yourself a dozen questions about whether something is worth doing, more often than not you say to yourself, “meh, I’ll just not do it.” But in my experience it is damn near impossible to actually predict what’s going to happen, with light in the sky or with any other new experience. So you should just go out and shoot. Just do it.

Let me give you a case in point. When I first moved to Santa Cruz in 2009 I lived in an apartment with an ocean view. Very handy for checking out the conditions on the coast. One day it had been raining incessantly all morning but when I heard the rain stop in the afternoon I went out to check the view.

It was still completely overcast, but with the tiniest, faintest, merest strip of slightly brighter overcast just above the horizon. I literally had a 20 minute debate with myself over whether I should go out or not. In the end I decided to go, and this is what the conditions were like when I got to the beach:

I can hear you all cheering with excitement. Yeah, it was pretty gray and the part of me that wanted to stay home was doing a little victory dance in my head, “see, I told you it would suck.” Still, I had come all the way out to the beach, I figured I ought to look around.

I headed down to the south end of the beach and found some neat mudstone rocks I’d never seen before. As sunset approached the sun slipped into some unseen break in the clouds, and the light began to do this:

As the sun continued to drop below the horizon the clouds lit up with a combination of magenta and pink I’ve yet to see repeated. Suffice it to say that I stood on, watching this, with my mouth agape like some slack-jawed yokel. At least I had the presence of mind to hit the shutter button a couple of times, and came home a better image.
The moral of the story here is clear: in photography and in life, it’s easy to second guess yourself, to ask doubting questions, and to talk yourself out of doing things. But you never know what the experience is actually going to be like until you try it. So just do it. Because you never know until you go.

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One Response

  1. My camera support only max 30-second shutter speed then what is the trick to take shoot more than 30 seconds to few minutes. Please explain or make a video on youtube? I have Canon 1200D. I increased ISO 400 but max shutter speed still shows 30 seconds.?

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