Have you ever thought of the connection between patience and good photos? Improve your patience, and you can improve your photography!
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Photographing Hummingbirds Takes Patience
“Whatcha doing?” Pedro asked.
I could see his shadow behind the white curtains hanging over our sliding-glass door. “Taking pictures of the pets,” I said. The hummingbirds had all zoomed away at hearing his voice, and I swallowed my sigh.
“Do you have time to cut my hair today?”
“Sure. Give me an hour or so until I finish here.”
“Perfect,” he said, and pulled the curtain aside to peek out the open door. “Gotten any good photos today?”
“A few,” I said, taking advantage of the break in action to swipe at the sweat trickling down my legs. “If it gets any hotter, I might quit early.”
“Have fun,” he said as he let the curtain drop back into place.
For the last thirty minutes I had stood on two boards spanning my planter box on the back porch. I held my DSLR camera and 100-400mm zoom lens and waited with great patience for the hummers to return to their feeding frenzy.
The white curtains acted as my studio backdrop, and the sun blazing over my shoulder lit up the area beautifully. With patience, I knew I could snap the perfect shot of a hummingbird. Patience that normally escapes me in the rest of my life.
But over the years we’ve lived on the migration path of four species of hummingbirds, I’ve discovered my patience has expanded. As a result, my photography has improved. My ability to have patience with other people and difficult situations has improved as well.
How Learning Patience Will Improve Your Photography
1. Learning to have patience with yourself will free up your creativity.
Set a goal to eradicate negative self-talk. Beating yourself up over every missed shot won’t make you a better photographer. Think of yourself as a student and remember students learn best when encouraged. How could you encourage yourself? What would you say to yourself?
Look for improvements in technique and composition instead of focusing on failures. When you feel curious instead of criticized, your creativity will whine forth.
2. Flexing your patience muscles will improve your photography.
Practice putting yourself in situations where patience matters. Helping an elderly person accomplish a task. Showing a youngster how to tie a shoe.
Likewise, you can practice patience in situations where you expect instant rewards—the checkout line at the grocery store or waiting in line for the barista to finish your order. Breathe deeply. Look around you and make an effort to look someone in the eye and smile. We don’t need to live our lives with our noses buried in our phones.
For me, photographing zooming birds has helped develop my patience. The unpredictability of my subject, the uncertainty of the lighting, the heat, pesky flies, and mosquitos all make me impatient. But my desire—get the perfect shot of a hummingbird—makes it all worthwhile.
Practicing patience outside of your photography life will enhance your ability to be in the moment when you photograph.
3. Enjoy the anticipation.
Researchers have discovered people will wait with more patience and anticipation for an experience than they will for a purchase. Photography provides the ultimate experience—we get to anticipate the perfect shot, and when we get it, we can enjoy it forever.
Your eagerness and anticipation will shine through in your work.
We won’t talk about the number of times I’ve failed to do this. I have great excuses—I didn’t have time, someone moved something, or I forgot. Forming habits and using triggers helps build our patience because we learn self-control.
I have a perfectly good tripod, but I’ve missed multiple shots of the moon because I didn’t have it with me, or I had forgotten a small part. By forming new habits, I can ensure I have the equipment I need when I need it. And that will make me a better photographer.
Practice waiting just a little longer (but don’t annoy your family too much).
Of course, I’ve waited patiently for over an hour for a Northern Jacana to move closer so I could get a better shot, but it didn’t cooperate. Such is (wild)life.
The best shots come from photographers who have patience. Patience to grow in their craft, treat themselves with kindness, and enjoy the moment.
Choose one of the patience hacks and determine how you will practice it in your life. I’ve found patience works both ways. When I practice it in my art, it spills over into my life. And if I practice it in my life, it spills over into my art.
Choose one photo for which you take pride in the patience you exhibited while capturing the photo. You might have waited just a little longer for the perfect sunrise or sunset. Perhaps your patience paid off in the perfect portrait of a beloved grandchild. Post it on Facebook and tag me (@self-carehacks). I’d love to see the product of your patience!
Come Back Tomorrow
I’ll share my camera settings for spectacular hummingbird photos in tomorrow’s installment of 28 Days Behind the Lens.Five Ways Learning Patience Can Improve Your Photography #photography #write28dayd #selfcare Click To Tweet