Time is an illusion
While vacationing I have started to contemplate time and my perception of time. Time is a funny thing and by funny I am not talking humorous. Time is something we never have enough of one moment and all the time in the world the next. I can remember as a child how time seemed to never move fast enough. Hours would seem like days. A year was like a decade, unless you count summer vacation, That always went by too quickly. I guess the old adage that time flies when you are having fun must be true. Wow, I guess now as an adult I must be having a barn burning hell of a time because time is flying by like an open faucet. No more drip, drip of time from my youth.
In reality the passing of time is all about perception. A minute is a minute is a minute. I wont go into the physics or science of time suffice it to say It's the same minute now that it was twenty years ago (more or less). But the perception of that minute is all relative to you. You have been reading now for a while and a minute or close to a minute has gone by depending on how fast or slow you read. Now look at your watch and time a minute. Hopefully looking at your watch seemed much longer than reading my post so far.
So what does all this talk about time have to do with photography you may be asking by yourself? I can only speak from a landscape photographers view point but I am sure it applies to other photographic disciplines or life in general.
Before we begin I will ask you to do a time sucking task after you read this post. Learn your camera inside and out or at least learn it well enough that when you need to, you are not fumbling around worrying about your settings. Secondly, plan as much as you can before you go out to shoot, at the very least have a loose concept of what you want to capture and how you plan to capture it. Preparation and planning go a long way to assist in your management of time. The more prepared you are and the more comfortable you are with your equipment, even in the face of a complete disaster you will be able to adjust to your situation in order to get what you need without wasting that precious commodity of time.
If you've ever gone out for a hike to a location or spent the day somewhere shooting you already know how the hours go by so quickly (if they aren't you may want to find a new hobby/career). (joking). Many things are occurring around you, clouds moving, light changing, wildlife or people frolicking, so much beauty to take in, sometimes its sensory overload. During these moments time goes by quickly or at least your perception of time goes by quickly. As photographers sometimes this perception of time going by quickly will affect how you see and how you shoot. Because you are perceiving time is going by quickly you may start shooting more quickly or you may bypass more interesting photographic opportunities or compositions in order to meet some non existent time constraint that you have imposed on yourself. If you do the same thing you did a moment a go, stop and "look at your watch". You will begin to notice things. Maybe on your hike to a destination you stop for ten minutes and instead of resting for rests sack you just look, explore with your eyes, enjoy with your senses, perceive in your mind. More times than not you will see something that speaks to you. Once you find something that speaks to you, enjoy that moment. If its a fleeting moment, sure take some shots as quickly as you can otherwise savor it, stay with it a while and then examine how you can convey what speaks to you into a compelling photograph, one that can speak to your audience as well. These moments are just like you looking at your watch and counting out a minute. You are in control of your perception of time.
Sure there are times when you can't take it all in if you want to get the shot. Sunsets or sunrises when the sun is near the horizon it moves quickly, event and wedding photography, editorial work, etc.
As an example I have a special spot that I know I can show up to at short notice and probably come away with something decent most of the time but most of my best shots are those where I have arrived early or just arrived and managed my time and took in my surroundings and just waited for the moments to find me. This workflow applies to both new and familiar locations. As much as I can I manage my time to my advantage by slowing down, taking in and discovering those things i find in those slowed down moments.
Well now it's time to get back to enjoying my time off and time to wrap up this post. So what will you do with your time the next time you are out shooting or just out enjoying your life? Please share your thoughts, if you have the time :)