Nature and art have always seemed to be complimentary elements to each other. For me to discover a passion for photography seemed inevitable. My love for the Wilderness has always been an accepted certainty. My need to capture it, an absolute.
After I studied photography online and received a diploma, I didn’t quite know where to go to start exploring this new and exciting opportunity that I had available to me.
What do I do now with the photographic theory that I have newly attained? Do I just gung-ho to the bush and spend my time taking photographs of the Wilderness? I couldn’t have thought of a better idea, until I was gently persuaded into furthering my studies in order to get the theory and practical experience and knowledge that hands-on tutoring could offer.
After some time considering my options – the first being that I had no money to my name so financing my travels would be a hurdle that I couldn’t quite see a way of getting over, the second concerning where I could get a job in the field that I love? Questions of my lack of experience were not far in following.
I agreed to study further.
After a year’s course of learning and practicing different photographic genres and technicalities, my love for nature photography was (and is) as raw as it ever was. Biting at the bit, I was more focused than ever before to get into the wildlife photography industry.
The excitement that I felt when I was able to participate in a photographic workshop at Tuli Nature Reserve hosted and taught by Wild Eye was uncontainable. The experience was even more overwhelming. I was doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do.
But don’t get me wrong. Although I was (and still am) excited to be in the nature photography industry, the challenges that I faced and became aware of during the workshop were quite daunting at times.
I guess that one of the main challenges that I faced in the transition from studying photography to its application in photographing animals in the wild is the lack of a physical control over the subject, and to a degree, the environment.
Taking my sweet time to manually change my aperture and shutter speed, to creating the composition that I could be proud of was just not really an option when a bird was about to fly off, or an elephant was on a mission to walk behind a tree to hide, conveying it’s clear disagreement of being interrupted in its general day-to-day occurrences.
To remember and understand the animal’s behavior and get the image, or get as close to what I wanted, in what felt like milliseconds…is it possible?
At times I couldn’t understand how my fellow photographers were getting these perfectly composed photographs with their subjects being framed so beautifully, while I felt like I was coming across trigger-happy and maniacal and, lets be honest, this occurring more often than not. Frustration was always sitting just behind me, mocking me with the reminders that I studied photography, so why wasn’t I producing work to the standard that I used to?
I began to realize that a lot of what I was taught was not that necessary or usable for the type of photography I wanted to go into. Of course the technical knowledge was and is indispensable but a course on and understanding of digital photography and how to photograph wildlife would have been more than valuable in the immediate and long run for me.
Yes, it sounds like I am complaining but this is really not the case. I personally feel that in quite a lot of ways, studying photography has benefitted me. I don’t think I can quite formulate how my creativity has flourished and how I now push myself to capture the world in as different and new a way as possible. I am constantly trying to challenge myself in these ways, as that is what and how I have been taught.
So ask me to apply this to the nature photography industry? How can I not be excited? Challenge accepted.
In summation to what I have written, I think that the benefits of studying photography and then applying that knowledge depends on the place you have studied at and the teachers. I had positive, tough, motivated teachers. All in all they are fantastic photographers, enablers, and people.
Where I could have come back from my experience in the Wilderness and thrown down the towel in defeat and gone back to taking pictures in a genre that I do well in, I am more focused now than ever to succeed and immerse myself in the photographic genre that I want to be a part of; nature.
My studies have taught me valuable knowledge of the camera.
Now I will let the Wilderness and my “Wild” eye to teach me how to capture its self.
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