About 14 years ago, I took a challenge to try different types of photography. I had a successful wedding and portrait business, but decided to try nature and wildlife photography. I even tried this incredibly crazy thing called bird photography. Previous to that point in time I had no interest in such things. I knew nothing about wildlife and I especially knew nothing about birds.
I started studying the work of Arthur Morris – then Greg Downing, then others in the field. I attended a few workshops and tried my hand at an unusual type of photography completely outside my comfort zone. And then it happened. I got hooked. I didn’t want to be hooked. Photographing birds is HARD. It’s REALLY hard. I thought brides were tough but no, birds are REALLY tough. My brides would at least TRY to listen to me. The birds flat out ignore me 🙂
All this to say – I just spent a glorious six plus weeks shooting birds nearly every day in Southwest Florida. My time here is up. I have to return to my other home in Gig Harbor near Seattle so I can get ready to go speak at WPPI in Las Vegas.
I can’t believe how completely Zen-like this time has been for me. I realize that I have to spend more time running my business than I do shooting. So this time of day-in and day-out photography has been a luxury.
When you get the chance to do the thing you love, you receive many benefits – some expected and some unexpected. As expected I created many salable images. I also had a successful, sold-out workshop run while in Florida. I enjoyed the warmer, sunnier weather and my time at the beach. No surprises in that list. But here are the surprises. I found my photography improving – even at this late stage in my career I feel like I still have a long way to go and many ways to improve. I also found myself relaxed in a way that I rarely enjoy. The pure bliss I felt hanging out with the birds, telling their stories, and sharing those images with folks around the world was somehow cathartic.
I’m planning on spending even more time in Florida next year. I am coming to grips with the fact that I just can’t accept every invitation and do every job I come across. Sometimes I think I’m better off just shooting, shooting and shooting, so next year I’ll be speaking less and shooting more – as long as I am able that is.
I don’t know if any of this will help anyone else, but I wanted to share it. Goodbye Florida for now. Back to rainy Seattle. Time to pick up my mail and drop off my dry cleaning before going back on the circuit. Sigh.
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