This is an article I’ve been wanting to write for a while now. As I look back on my years as a photographer, I’ve come to realize that much of my best work has come through exploration. Not random wandering, but sort of guided meandering towards points of interest. Read on about photography and the magic of exploration
Often, I start my day’s session by saying to myself “today I am going to this location at this time of day and I am going to shoot this type of photo”. And often that works out just fine. But just as often it does not. I’ll shoot some stuff. The light is not so great or at the wrong angle for the scene, etc. I’m trying to force the image into my camera the way I imagined it. And I come back with nothing really usable to show for it.
Other times I will go out, camera gear in hand and sort of head toward areas of interest, looking here and there along the way. I see something interesting, so I pull out the camera and shoot some photos, then move on. And I come back with several great shots.
The definition of serendipity
- The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
- The phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.
I guess what I am trying to say is, I realize I get just as much useable imagery from unplanned sessions as I do from planned sessions. And it’s more unexpected, fresh, surprising and to be honest, inspired. I’ve just witnessed “photography and the magic of exploration”.
Having thought about this a fair amount, my theory is that when you engage in exploration rather than focusing on a particular outcome, it frees your mind to take in all the possibilities around you. Shots other than the one you were focused on getting start to look good. You have allowed your brain to take in, and process all the possibilities around you.
Not all who wander are lost
How to you engaging “guided meandering” and ensure that you are improving your chances at seeing things worth shooting? Just as an example; I’ll look at Google Maps around the area I am in or planning to go to. Look for interesting features like lakes, rivers, meadows, big rocks, viewpoints, winding trails. Then when I arrive at those locations, I already have a good idea which direction to explore in.
If you take a look at the feature photo above, this was taken during a side trip as I was on my way to a camp ground about 95 miles further on. I had noticed a side road that eventually arrived back at the main highway so I decided to take it. I’m glad I did now!
Conclusion of photography and the magic of exploration
Just keep this information in mind as you go through life practicing your photography. I am not saying don’t plan for certain shots. In fact, most of my shooting adventures are planned. Especially related to date, time, weather, seasons, etc. All I am saying is don’t forget about unplanned photography and the magic of exploration.