Photography by its very nature is a very independent hobby. After all, it can prove quite difficult to fit more than one eyeball behind a single viewfinder. And while a supportive friend or a doting husband may enjoy the sunrise or the waterfall with you, he will invariably grow weary of continuing the conversation several yards down the path just to turn around and find you no longer next to him as you’re drawn away by a gnarled root or peculiar blossom every few minutes like a Pixar dog – “SQUIRREL!”
And if he can tolerate that, he will tire of that particular spot along the coastline long before you’ve waited out and captured *the* optimal wave crash. He also worries about you when you venture out onto some precarious ledge chasing after the perfect vantage, and he questions your inspiration in garbage.
Because he is there, he becomes your shelf, there to hold lenses when switching them out, grab some accessory from your backpack, or to help lug your tripod because you’re already carrying fifty pounds of gear. But it’s not all bad. He also serves the purpose of being your subject to add character to your shots. He stands perfectly still for your star shot silhouette and gazes absently into the distance for your landscape. He chases birds for you. He climbs up onto a rock for you. He jumps a dozen times until you’re pleased with the shot – for you.
He really is an awesome guy.. and he has more fun than he’ll admit! But this also means you have four thousand pictures of him and a whopping five of yourself.
For years, I have encouraged Aaron to bring his camera along on our excursions. He’ll occasionally take some pictures of me (almost always behind a camera), and he gets some decent shots from time to time. I’ll sometimes frame a scene for him (especially if I’m to be in the photo), preparing my camera in such a way that he can simply press the button and secure the pixels. I’ve gradually instilled some techniques through osmosis, first limiting his adjustments to focusing and eventually graduating him to shutter speed. After a while, he began to see what I see, and now he’ll point out interesting suggestions. He can even make sense of aperture and ISO. I am slowly converting him to the dark side }:)
In an effort to find some common ground, he got us involved with a local photography and hiking group. He could enjoy the hikes, and I would have other photo geeks who understand my obsession. Surrounded by more photographers than hikers, though, he is slowly finding more interest in the hobby. While I’m sure he’ll never be quite as enthusiastic as me (danger? what danger? just so long as I get the shot!!), he’s gradually understanding more about the fundamental elements of light, focus, framing, and composition with less and less of my guidance. Honestly, I think he just doesn’t want to feel left out when we start nerding out over our gear and software.
Wanting his own territory upon which to stake his claim, Aaron is delving into videography. I’ve provided a few pointers, but my expertise really lies in photography. I hope he soon surpasses my own knowledge on the subject as he seeks his YouTube niche.
In the meantime, we’ve met some wonderful friends in our new group. Surrounded by such a diverse collection of talents, we each know a little about something someone else lacks. I’ve learned more about my own camera, painting foregrounds at night, and how to get the most out of one spot. I have discovered new, obscure locations (thanks to members of the group), and they’re always giving me new ideas from which to draw at a later date. In return, I’ve inspired with some of my unique views and immunity to photographic boredom.
We might scatter on the trail, but we have lots to talk about around the campfire, sharing our favorite shots and critiquing post-production options. I don’t get the glares when I stop to snap a shot of a colorful bug; everyone else has already stopped to indulge their own distractions. I’m not left alone when patiently awaiting just the right cloud configuration. I even get to be the subject in others’ pictures. And no one questions my shooting a backpack instead of the waterfall (ok, that might have raised a brow or two.. but they were pleased with the result!).
And now, Aaron’s off to capture his own art, so I guess I’ll have to change that lens by myself this time.