June 26, 2012

Fight the Dogs

In May I heard Dan Ballard speak at the Moab Photo Symposium.  He had an excellent presentation about getting out there and being present in the landscape.  He told a story about being in a foreign country and having to get up early every morning to hike out to his sunrise location, but between his lodging and this landscape were a pack of stray dogs.  The image he wanted was relatively specific and required a few natural elements to line up so he had to return to his location on multiple occasions.  Each morning as the alarm went off and it was very, very dark, he had to convince himself to “fight the dogs.” 

So what did I do the next morning when the alarm went off?  Looked outside, saw stars (no clouds), and went back to bed.  Seriously.  When I got up an hour later and looked outside, I saw the perfect puffy pink clouds of an amazing morning.   I did not fight the dogs.  I didn’t even see the dogs. 
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the advice:
“Get out there!  The only way to get the image is to be there!”
“Don’t be late for work! If the light is right when you arrive, you missed the shot!”
“Spending a day outside photographing is better than a day at the office.”
“Getting out is the hardest part!”
I have used these lines myself!  And here I was, sleeping through a photography weekend sunrise.  FAIL.

While I did not heed Dan’s advice that weekend, the story stuck with me and I related to the line “fight the dogs.”  In my urban living situation, I do not have any wild dogs standing between me and my photographic subjects, but I do have two adorable Italian greyhounds who do not like to be disturbed while they are sleeping (which is most of the time), especially in the morning. 

As that line bounced around in my head, I started to develop an idea.  Not about getting out more, not about early morning alarm clocks, but about all the hurdles standing between me and better photography.  There are obstacles in every aspect of photography that make up the pack of stray dogs I fight to improve my craft.  

There are new computer programs, processing techniques, and printing tutorials to learn, understand, and apply.  I am influenced by what is popular on social media causing me to ignore what I find inspirational.  I feel the need to visit iconic locations to shoot the sights I see online while also wanting to explore my landscape closer to home.  At the end of the day the obstacles seem too great, the pack of dogs is too large, and I do nothing.  

It is time that I commit to my needs as an artist and what I have to do to improve.  I must focus on my vision and practice my craft to fulfill my potential. 

Am I the only one or do you ever have to "fight the dogs?"


Joel DeYoung said...

"Am I the only one or do you ever have to "fight the dogs?""

As I wake up to see yet another calm cool, perfect macro shooting morning and realize I should have been in the field an hour earlier. That would be a no. :-(

The dogs were barking and I realized that I slept right through it! I'm getting better though, and so will you. Keep up the good work, and keep learning.


Anne Rusk said...

Thanks, Joel! I am glad to hear that I am not alone! Best of luck and keep up the fight :-)