One of the most best moments I have had in my short time as a professional photographer was when I was given the opportunity to take a ten day photography safari in Kenya. Early on I felt as though I had to photograph everything that I came across that I was not taking time to savor the experience. I knew I was there to work, but I came to the realization that I had to enjoy my time there because I might not get the opportunity to go back.
Part of learning to take the time to enjoy the moment is that as you continue to shoot in the same place or the same event you become more selective. That is not to say that you shouldn’t always have your camera at the ready. You should. You should also be willing to take in the moment. As a speaker and photographer having the ability to explain the feeling in the moment can sell a photograph or make your audience passionate about what you are as well.
When I am asked what the most memorable moment thus far in my career has been I will without a doubt tell someone it was standing a few feet away from two white rhinos. I knew going to Kenya I would see lions, elephants, and gazelle. I knew there were animals I would be lucky to see, but I was not at all sure that I would see a rhino. On the last day in the field I was told I would get to see a rhino. However, after several hours travelling, sitting on a roadside, and two jeeps I was adamant the experience was not meant to be, but with only an hour before sunset I visited the one animal I had every hope of seeing, but little expectation to find.
As I move further into my second life as a wildlife photographer and speaker I cannot help but get emotionally involved with the animals I come into contact with. I always do research before I travel and recommend it to anyone. I have become increasingly involved in supporting and watching what is happening with rhino conservation. As the numbers in Kenya dwindle I knew I was going to be lucky. I also knew to see one would be extremely special.
That evening when we came across the male and female that were under special protection outside of the Masai Mara Reserve I knew I was lucky. As the ranger brought us to the animals and the rhinos came into the clearing I started shooting. I got the shots and always had the camera at the ready. At some point I remember kneeling down to take some ground level shots and lowering my camera to savor the moment. I could not help but think about how lucky I was. I was close to an animal that future generations may never have the opportunity to see in the wild.
I can still visualize the moment in my head. That is something that I can still recall whenever I talk to someone about my favorite experience. I remember that whenever I get so caught up in getting the shot and forget to take in the moment. As a photographer always make sure you get the shot. Don’t forget to feel and savor the moment. Often the story behind the picture is more special than the picture itself.
Keep s\Shooting and Keep Exploring!