Hurry Up And Wait

I remember this old adage being used frequently when I was an assistant to several commercial photographers in Dallas and Austin in my younger days.

“Today will be a lot of ‘hurry up and wait'”, they’d say.  Stylists, make-up artists, talent, creatives, account execs, clients, big wigs, etc.  Everyone has their part to play in a commercial shoot, and the bureaucracy at times, made for really long days.

I still shoot some commercial work, but the transition back to my first love, nature photography has reminded me that this old saying still rings true.

You can’t rush the elements.  And sometimes, they just never come together the way you visualized.

This image below is from my most recent trip to several northern Arizona/ southern Utah National Parks.  I drove over 1500 miles each way, hiked 20+ miles round trip with 60-75 lbs of gear, woke up at 3:30 AM, and waited for an image that was in my head of stars over the incomparably beautiful Havasu Falls.  I waited in vain, in the dark, for two hours until the sun rose.  But the clouds never broke long enough to capture the nighttime star picture I wanted.

I still came away with a few images I liked, but not what I truly wanted and envisioned.

Sometimes it’s really hard work to capture images such as these… and when dealing with nature, there are no guarantees.

But sometimes, it all comes together, with little work on your part other than being there… and being prepared.

When we arrived at Grand Canyon National Park, all the elements came together.  No long hikes through deep canyons and sand with all my gear.  Just amazing drive-up vistas, dramatic clouds, and phenomenal light.

However, there was still the need for patience.

Then there are the opportunities that occur when you least expect them… as can happen often with wildlife.  We were driving to a trailhead when my wife spotted a group of desert bighorn sheep scrambling up the slick rock of Zion National Park.  Thankfully, I stay prepared for even these chance encounters.

When traveling, I always have a camera body ready for wildlife.  70-200mm lens with a 2x teleconverter, fast shutter speed and wide aperture set.  Because you never know.

Waiting.  Prepared.  They are the ever present realities of the nature photographer.

Often we’re waiting on the individual elements; the light, the animals, the weather, etc.

But much more profound than just these, it is the moment we seek to capture.  The culmination of all the elements in space and time, artfully composed in our frame.  We are dutifully ready and able to use whatever tools are necessary or at our disposal to lock the “paint onto the canvas”.

We’re fortunate as photographers if this happens perfectly even a few dozen times in our our career.  It is elusive, truthful, and beautiful.  It’s addicting too.

And it’s why I still desire to continue learning and growing… and venturing out into the wild.

Hurry up and wait my friends!

— andrew

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