Judo is a martial art developed in Japan. It takes a long time and a great deal of practice to master Judo. I had the idea that if Judo masters were photographers, they’d apply a similar approach to both disciplines.
1. Focus – not the kind that you achieve with the camera – but with your mind.
Focus is as much about exclusion as inclusion. When you have a camera in hand, learn how to tune out anything around you that isn’t contributing to your photography.
Always approach each photographic subject with reverence and respect. The image you make of this subject may be the historical record that represents it throughout history. Don’t underestimate the importance of ANY image. There are no unimportant photographs.
You must approach each photograph in a self-assured manner. You must be confident that you are doing anything and everything you can to make a good image. Be aggressive but don’t be arrogant. Be sure but don’t be cocky.
When things don’t work out the way you want them to, have a backup plan that you can use to accomplish your goal. Don’t give in. Don’t stop being on offense. Reset and try another angle.
You may need to use less than your best or biggest to make the right image. Sometimes leverage shows up in the most unusual places. Know the path you want to take and take that path without regard for things like gear limitations. Find another way.
Self-control, patience and perseverance are key to making good photographs. Sometimes might doesn’t make right. Sometimes simply waiting – being quiet – being still – and waiting for the best moment is the best approach.
Even masters need to practice. When you see them work, they look different than non-experts. Experts make everything look easy. It’s because they have practiced to the point where everything is second nature. The photographer who is so practiced with their gear that they can merely concentrate on the image also makes things look easy. But it isn’t how easy it is to do it – it’s how long it takes to practice so it LOOKS easy.
Judo is a martial art where strength isn’t always deployed against strength. It’s a more delicate art where balance, harmony and leverage work together to overcome great odds.
It’s not easy to make a good, deliberate photograph that will stand the test of time. It may take a lifetime to get that one perfect shot. But the more we as photographers can become like the Judo expert, the more likely we are to have success.
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