Photographers are often preoccupied with moments. We spend our days hunting for compositions and studying light so that we know where to go when The Moment hits. This is a great way to experience the beauty of our planet but it also has an unintended consequence: this preoccupation with finding the best moment often takes us out of the moments we’re in right now.
When you’re in a beautiful place in challenging shooting conditions, it’s far too easy to think about better light you could be experiencing another time. And when you’re experiencing gorgeous light, it’s easy to get caught up thinking that you need to be in another place to best take advantage of it.
Over the years, rather than wishing for better light or a different location or a better moment, I’ve found much more satisfaction from simply being as present as possible whenever I am in nature. This allows me to be more receptive to the stories that Mother Nature is telling me in those moments. And to use my camera to capture those stories.
On this beautiful spring evening I was strolling through the oak savanna on the west side of the Sierra. I wandered into a grove of stately oak trees and was blown away by their perfect organic shapes. I felt all of my senses come to life: my eyes were drawn in by the vivid green of the grass and leaves, along with the strong graphical shapes of the trunks. A soft breeze whispered through the air, bringing a fresh spring scent and lovely susurration to the evening. I could feel the grasses dancing against my legs.
The sun dropped into a gap in the clouds and I could tell that this was the defining moment of the evening. I fired off a handful of shots, then I stood peacefully and simply watched the scene. I wasn’t thinking about other compositions, other locations, or other times. I was simply there, in the moment.