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on Feb 1, 2006 in Thought of the Month

What’s Your Passion?

Greater Sandhill Crane

The masses of birds are gone from the feeders and only a couple woodpeckers come and go now. I walk outside and the only sound is that of the wind, not even the falling snow breaks the stillness. I trudge here and there through the forest looking for that darn rabbit, but it still eludes me. I do have my son’s xc ski races to shoot which gives me a momentary thrill of the shutter ripping at 8fps, but it’s only a hundred images at best of high speed shooting each week. It’s about this time each winter I start to go stir crazy, what some might call cabin fever. My passion is all raved up with nowhere to go.

I keep writing about passion in your photography because I feel it’s a very important and essential ingredient to success. It can also lead you to great frustration at times. For me right now, my passion to photograph birds is driving me to pace from wall to wall. I know it will all pass, in a couple of weeks the masses of birds will be back but until then, shooting another tree in snow just ain’t going to cut it.

Then there is the other side of the problem. A person wrote me lately and flatly stated, they didn’t know what was their passion is, they just like to take photos. They found frustration in that while they love to take photos, they weren’t just nutzo crazo passionate about photographing just one thing. They wondered if that was a bad thing. What do you think? I don’t think so, I think they have a passion they just don’t recognize it and I think that is common and that’s OK!

Back in the 90’s, there was this phrase in the business, a specialized generalist. Sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it, but in reality, it describes this person who loves photography but isn’t passionate about one particular aspect of photography. I love the smell of a new camera body or lens when you first open the box but I’m not so passionate about it that I buy something new every day so I can enjoy that smell. Can’t you enjoy being a photographer without being passionate about one particular aspect? And if you can, the more important question is, can you be successful in your photography with that broad passion?

Passion in photography comes in many, many, many forms. You could label the passion as birds, mammals, landscapes, sports photography or the like but you can also be passionate about the chase as well. Couldn’t you label the chase of a new subject, new technique, mastering a new lens or idea as a passion as well? If you get up early to go after a sunrise, isn’t that a passionate drive? If you take the time to set up an elaborate studio settings to photograph vase, isn’t that a passion? What if you freeze off your bum trying a new technique to capture star trails with digital, isn’t that a passionate endeavor as well?

Do you really have to have a passion in photography to be successful? That’s like asking, do you have to have a Nikon or Canon to be successful? It truly comes down to the person behind the camera. But in this day and age of advance camera technology, what is it the separates the weekend warriors from the photographic artist that say so much with one click of the shutter? I think that just having a passion to click that shutter no matter what the camera is pointed at is where all great images begin. Following your passion will bring frustration just as all great pursuits in life can bring. Following your passion however you label it will also bring the greatest rewards. Those rewards only begin with the satisfaction you feel for yourself and your efforts and end with the enjoyments you bring to others with your efforts.

Go out and shoot, shoot and shoot some more… there’s the passion!