Lesson 3: Never Give Up

Sometimes the key to success is knowing when to give up, and when is that?…….Never! This is a series of my 7 favorite life lessons I’ve learned by being a photographer. In this video I want to talk about the power of perseverance.

Some things in life you can control, like whether you buy white or wheat bread. But many things you can’t. In nature photography it is much the same.

In fact, out here you’re lucky if you control 50% of the process. You and your camera show up but nature has to meet you halfway. Your camera technique can be impeccable, and your composition masterful, but if the light doesn’t cooperate then you get bupkis. Or conversely, if the light is killer but you screw up somehow, like maybe you accidentally left your camera at ISO 204,800 from when you were trying to shoot those nocturnal hummingbirds. Either way, you go home with nadda.

So what can you do? Only one thing, and that is just give up. Not! Just wanted to see who was paying attention. All you can do is keep trying. Over and over and over.

In early 2010 I was spending a lot of my afternoons scouting the Santa Cruz coast for new locations to shoot. On March 13th I came across a neat shelf which showcased cool features like a gaping sea cave, vivid green algae, and this rocky pinnacle. Even cooler, as the waves crashed against the shelf they would wrap around this pinnacle and form a 15-foot waterfall down the back side.

This had the makings of an awesome photo, but everything had to be just right: nice light behind the pinnacle, and a tide and swell high enough to send water around the rock to make a great waterfall, but not so high as to wash me away into the ocean. So I estimated when the right tide would be and started making trips.

On March 14th I came out at sunset and had some ok light, but it was all to the west. Boo.

Ten days later the tide was right again. So on March 24th I visited the shelf and got the exact waterfall action I was looking for but the heavy clouds kept any color from creeping into the sunset. Boo.

On March 30th conditions were looking promising so I again took a trip. and Again I had some decent light but it was all to the west, with nothing of interest happening over my little rocky point. Boo.

Now I was 0 for 4 attempts on shooting this wavy waterfall. But did I give up? Heck no! I just kept trying and on April 9th the tide and clouds were looking good. So out I went yet again and this time everything fell into place: the clouds to the southeast lit up with color, and the waves sent gorgeous cascades of whitewater around the rocky pinnacle to give me my waterfall. And all that effort and repeated attempts made the final image even sweeter to me.

The moral of the story here is pretty clear: when you want something, go after it. Over and over and over. Never give up!!!

As always, thanks for watching! You can see more in this series here:

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