If you’re a photographer, then you’re well aware that many things will test your patience, frustrate you, or even worse, make you wait. We’re always waiting for something. Waiting for the day’s images to transfer to our computers, waiting for that exciting new piece of gear we ordered to arrive at our home. We wait for the light to change, or for a wild animal to emerge from undergrowth so we can capture a photograph. In all things, we find ourselves waiting. Hopefully patiently, but sometimes—especially if that new piece of gear is particularly exciting—maybe with a bit of impatience!
Still, the old adage is true. Patience is a virtue.
Nowhere is that more true than with photography projects. I can’t count the number of times I thought a project would go one way, but it ended up not going that way at all. That’s the thing about photography. We plan a lot—and so we should, because solid plans generally make us more productive. But sometimes, those plans count for nothing if the weather turns out different from what you expected, or if your subjects aren’t being cooperative. Sometimes it’s a matter of the inspiration simply not coming no matter how long we wait for it. Without that inspiration, these images we’ve been counting on just don’t turn out.
Lots of things can happen during the photographic process, and these things can be frustrating enough to make you want to put the camera away and go home, at least until another day. If you’re photographing people, then it depends on their moods, their willingness to engage with you, or their willingness to cooperate—particularly with children, who can be notoriously uncooperative! Outdoors gives you wind, rain, snow, and unpredictable lighting to deal with. In rare instances, you may plan to visit a certain landmark or area only to find that what you’d counted on being there is now gone. Buildings torn down, or parks suddenly closed for renovations, that sort of thing.
That’s where patience comes in. What else can a photographer do when things just aren’t going right? Be patient and do what you can to salvage the opportunity. No sense getting worked up over it!
Maybe even more importantly, these could be the instances where you have to learn to roll with the punches, so to speak. The simple truth is this: All opportunities are opportunities to be creative. When things aren’t going as planned, then it’s upon us to roll with it. Pause and think, reconsider. Maybe it’ll take some reimagining. And if you can do that, rethink and reimagine as the situation evolves, then no matter what happens, you’ll come home with worthwhile photographs. Every chance to take a picture holds potential, even if it’s not the situation you envisioned when you started. Be patient and do what it takes to see the project through. Don’t give up on potential just because things aren’t turning out how you thought they would.