The other day a photographer friend of mine sent me a ranting text about a popular bird rookery in Florida. Many a great photographer has shot there.
"They ruined it! They put a fence up and it's ruined, you can't shoot there anymore".
I thought, wow... what kind of fence? A privacy fence? Surely not. A chain link fence? Deer netting? Chicken wire?
No. None of those.
Apparently someone either dropped something over the railing into the waiting alligators below or fell off the boardwalk. So they decided to put up three horizontal pieces of cable to keep the same thing from happening again.
"It's right at eye level. Im never going back" they said.
That made me want to go more... and rant a little on my own.
If you want to be a serious photographer, especially a wildlife photographer, you occasionally have to get dirty. You have to lay on your stomach, crawl around in the dirt, kneel in the mud, climb trees, hike, hide in the woods, camp out, battle the insects, get in the water and maybe even entertain an occasional snake or two.
Because thats where the cool pictures live. The award winning stuff doesn't happen at eye level at the edge of the beaten path. Photography is about perspective and its about angles. It's
about getting something different. Something not everyone else has. It's about patience and inconvenience and about being at the right place at the exact right time. If it were easy everyone would have award winning portfolios.
It's not about eye level.
You see this a lot in places like Yellowstone. I call them window shooters. They pull their car off to the side of the road when they see a Bison or a coyote, roll down the window, shoot it... and drive off. Now granted, getting a picture of a bison or a coyote is a cool experience any time you can get it... but its not going to be a great picture shooting out the window.
Not from the window of your car. It's goin
g to look like an iPhone snapshot.
The text made me think about when I was a kid flipping through Sports Illustrated or Field and Stream magazine. Today you can go to Best Buy and walk out of there with a camera that can autofocus, track motion, figure out the light, stabilize the shot and in some cases, talk to you. And they couldn't just look at the back of the camera after they shot it to see if they "got the shot". Back in the day, the guys shooting for SI and Field and Stream (and everybody else) didn't have auto anything. They not only had to find the cool angles... they also had to be technically perfect. And they still got some awesome shots. I know. I was one of those guys... I grew up on those cameras. And even then, they still had to crawl around in the mud and the muck and sometimes turn into a contortionist to get just the right angle, the right light... the right shot.
Today there are more photographers than ever. Technology has made it possible for anyone with an interest to be capable of capturing good photos. But if you want to capture great photos... you have to get dirty.
Moral of the story... shoot over, under, or around the fence.