Making vs. taking – Part 2

by Steve Brock on April 19, 2012

Image of people in Naples

I have many other photos from a trip to Naples, Italy that are technically better, but the people in this one make it personal and take me right back there

Last time we saw how you can either make or take a photo or a trip. When you “make” it, you invest more of yourself, you’re more intentional and the results are usually more meaningful.

This time, let’s explore five additional ways in which making a great photograph and making a meaningful journey are similar.

    • Time. My family thinks I should have my own show on the Food Channel called “Cooking with Steve.” Each episode would only take ten minutes because the distinctive would be that everything has to be done fast. My theory is, if the recipe says set the oven to 350 degrees, I say bump it up to 425 and save yourself the wait. Why sauté when you can stir fry in half the time? But as I’m finding with learning to bake bread or making sauces, some things simply can’t be rushed. Some food is better prepared in a crock pot than a microwave. Similarly, most photographs and trips also turn out better when you don’t rush them. There’s a place for the fast-paced trip or photo, but in general taking time leads to making better images and memories.
    • Effort. I hate this one. After all, who goes on vacation and wants to work? But meaningful journeys cost you more than the price of your airfare and hotel. Same with photography. I’ll never be a great photographer because I like sleep (instead of getting up for the great pre-dawn light) and dinner (which I would have to forego to get that great evening light) too much. Making great photos is a lot like sales: Most sales people give up after the third rejection. Most sales, however, are made after the sixth one. With photography, while your first shot is often your best because you capture what you first see, many times the most distinctive shot comes after trying a dozen or more different angles or approaches. Most of us give up after two or three tries.
    • Personal. Great trips and photographs matter most when they touch you in a unique way. What’s meaningful to you may not matter to another soul. That’s OK. Find what is important to you, in an image or a trip. As they say, personal is powerful and if it moves you, it will likely stir others as well.
    • People. Our best trips and often our best photographs include people. To a landscape photographer, people might be seen as messing up a photo. But to me, they often provide scale, context and a dynamic element. We ooh and aah over mountains and sunsets. Yet God’s greatest creation walks and talks and looks a lot like us. So get more people into your trips and your shots!
    • Homework. Often the most meaningful part of a trip comes once you get home and you reflect back on your experience. Often photos that look so-so on your camera can become masterpieces with some effort on your computer at home. Trips are taken abroad, but they are made at home.

Well, that’s my list of ten similarities between great photos and great trips.

How about you? What have you found that makes either a photo or a trip more interesting or meaningful?

If you haven’t yet, you can read Part 1 here

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