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on Oct 21, 2011 in Random Thoughts

In Search of Knowledge

I just got a new project offered to me this past week and I’m really, very excited about it. It’s another of those kinds of projects that I am particularly good at. It’s in a cold place, very little is known biologically about the critter and there are very few photographs of the critter, the Alaskan Hare. When I get projects like this, I go into a favorite mode, research. I just love looking for, uncovering and learning new knowledge especially when I know it will improve my photography. In this particular case, I have no special insider info, no one expert I can query, I have to hit the books and learn it for myself. That’s a pretty typical MO and not just for me but for most of my peers be it wildlife or landscape or portraits or aviation. There just isn’t a road map, we have to create our own.

This little box on my Firefox toolbar should look a whole lot more warn then it does because I pound this thing. I’ve learned some tricks over the years to be fast at finding the trivia I want, but it seems I’m there all the time. It’s in this search for knowledge I find out things like what lens I might need, not that someone says, “You’re going after the Green-spotted Shank use a 18-200 lens,” but rather gathering the pieces so I can do the math that then tells me this. For a long, long time, research has shown that most when they use Google Search never click on Page 2, they never get past Page 1. Understanding how quickly folks want information, I did the silly thing of creating a website so finding information on the particular subject of wildlife photography might be faster. That’s why there’s over 2500 pages of trivia here and over 100 videos, all here created in my quest for knowledge.

But doing our own research, we found that our Search feature gets used so little, I’m thinking about putting a spider web graphic on it. Here’s my beef. Folks not coming to my site to seek knowledge isn’t the problem. My problem is what seems to be a good portion of photographers don’t seek knowledge, period! I teach a lot of workshops and interface with a helluva of a lot of photographers and the percentage who don’t even understand the workings of their cameras, I’m talking just the setting, boggles my mind! And that’s just the start of the quest of knowledge. Why is that? Just paying for the expensive camera doesn’t mean it will take great photos for you. It’s like you buy a car and then expect it to drive you everywhere while you watch the sites. Taking this one step further, I am just blown away when photographers spend a ton of money on gear then on traveling to some great locale arriving not knowing a thing about how their camera works! Really?! This is the time to learn about how that tool works?

Had a long travel day yesterday, took 26hrs to get home so I had a bunch of time to think. I thought not of the wonderful bunch of students we had this past week at Lake Placid DLWS but rather my peers, those photographers I have great respect and admiration for. I went back in my memory to our many discussions about our trade and came to a realization that we all have one thing very much in common. We are all always in search of knowledge! We all do a ton of research when heading out for a project. We all do a ton of research on our gear and test before we go out on that project and then once on site, we search and search with our camera in telling the story. This does not guarantee success, there is no such guarantee in photography. But what it will do is guarantee you’ll have fun! That’s the main reward in photography that knowledge brings. The satisfaction of doing the research, connecting the dots and then putting that into play with the camera even with failure is fun and it’s that fun that keeps the passion of photography alive!