Camera in hand, eye to the viewfinder, there are times when I choose not to press the shutter button. Photography is an experience. Sometimes, the moment is ruined by taking the shot. I don’t often regret this choice because it gives me that zen moment.
So the concept of not taking the shot may seem foreign to many photographers. It’s very easy to remember the shots you didn’t get or the shots you just barely missed. Those stick out in your brain as you reflect back and remember, possibly with regret. But I suspect if you think really hard, there are times where you may also have chosen not to take the shot. I was apparently exhibiting this behavior myself for many years before I noticed I was doing it. I wonder if that’s what separates the good photographers from the inexperienced.
Whether you shoot for fun or whether it is your career, photography is pretty much a lifestyle choice. You have dedicated hours of your life to honing your craft. You have spent countless hours researching, experimenting, analyzing, tweaking and sometimes redoing your work; photography has essentially become a large part of who you are. And it’s a two-way path: At some point, you will start to observe the world differently. You will start to look around more as a reflex; as a habit, even if you don’t have a camera with you. This helps you to notice a great many things. This helps you to learn a lot about your environment and the things around you. You’ll appreciate your surroundings more and you will become a better person for it. All because of photography. You will be at least partially defined by your photography.
As you grow in the craft, the act of taking a photograph – creating an image – will become second nature. When all of the technical knowledge and wisdom fades into the background, the creative process becomes the center of attention. I believe I hit this point several years ago without noticing. But now that I am aware, I live for these moments. I love it.
The act of taking a photo is, to me, just as much fun as sharing it with others.
So there are times where I am set up to take a shot and the zen moment hits me: This is a feeling I don’t get doing anything else. It’s a difficult feeling to explain, but I will try. It’s like getting a hug from your own child: There will be more, but in that moment you realize that your child is part of you, but you still love each and every hug. It’s like getting the keys to your first car, or your first home. It’s like one of your photos getting significant notice on your favorite photo sharing site. But it is entirely personal.
And when that zen moment hits me…sometimes I just want to enjoy the moment rather than click the shutter.