I was asked by my neighbor at the condo in Fort Myers (Tom) to go for a walk on the beach the other day with him and his five-year-old grandson Bradley.
Bradley was very excited and intent on collecting “big shells.” Shelling happens to be one of my pass-times here in Florida so I offered to help.
As we walked the low-tide, I noticed an older couple in front of us with a plastic grocery sack. That’s a surefire sign of more shellers. The old couple would stop every few feet and add a shell to their collection.
Bradley noticed this too and soon became concerned. He was tugging on his grandfather’s shirt asking, “Papa – how will I ever get a big shell if those people pick up all the good ones?”
Clearly this was a teachable moment between Bradley and Tom so I bit my tongue and tried not to laugh. Tom bent down on one knee, hugged Bradley and said, “Don’t worry Bradley, the ocean waves keep coming and each time they do, there’s another chance to find that big shell you’ve been waiting for.”
Trusting in his grandfather like he would no other, the boy giggled, relaxed and continued his journey down the beach with Tom and I, stopping to examine a shell here and there.
As the beach often does, it caused me to realize a great lesson for photographers. We live in a world where most of the messaging we hear is based on fear and/or scarcity. New photographers often act like Ansel Adams got all the good shots. I have to chuckle when I hear that kind of thinking.
Just like Tom knew Bradley would eventually get his shell, I know that each new wave brings new opportunity. If we’re patient, and we look hard enough, nearly everyplace we go offers the chance for photographic gold. Just because some other photographer has been there before you doesn’t mean you can’t get a good shot too.
Bradley eventually found his “big shell” and let out a yelp along with a “You were right Papa you were right!”
Perhaps you can learn something from Tom, Bradley and the ocean waves pounding down on Fort Myers Beach. Perhaps you can wait out the next wave, open your heart and your mind and go out there to make your next masterpiece, no matter who has been there before you.