Find a place in each image that is yours and yours alone!
I'm an active photographer. Really active. Ask anyone I shoot with.
I capture images the way I write novels: restless until it's done, always looking, searching, discovering, working my tail off so that inspiration will find me and strike when I least expect it.
I shot this magical sunset on Bottany Bay off the South Carolina coast in Januaray 2016, less than a month after I "graduated" from my Nikon Coolpix to my Nikon D7100. I had no idea what I was doing. But I'd discovered the "sunset" setting on one of the menus (which took care of intimidating-sounding things such as aperture and f-stop and ISO), and I'd heard about this boneyard beach I had to try my hand at.
I knew only that weather was moving in. And I loved the shots I'd taken for years on Isle of Palms when the clouds were painting up the sky while the water below reflected each stroke and ambient glow of light. So, off I went to explore and see what I could see.
That's all I had, really. My passion for grabbing whatever caught my eye. And my determination not to stop until I'd succeeded.
I've never spent a more magical time on a beach.
It's as if the the setting sun and the clouds and the high tide receding had conspired to show off and reward my naive enthusiasm.
These are mostly unprocessed captures, by the way. Except for whatever free software came from Microsoft at the time--which I used to play with color tones and hues. I was an "unsophisticated" novice, little more than a tourist as I walked out that long peer over the intracostal marsh to an almost alien looking, narrow stretch of beach.
Not that I cared, once I saw the images appearing on the screen on the back of my D7100.
I'd been shooting sunsets and beaches for a while. I knew they could do amazing things if the timing was right and I was ready to get wet and work fast and rush to catch every last scrap of light I could. But that's all I knew.
That would be my "space" that night.
Watching the shifting clouds and the position of the sun and how all of it chose to dance with those amazing trees falling into the surf.
To this day, I can remember every moment of my first "intentional" shoot.
It wasn't easy, working with quickly changing weather and roaming people all around (the beach was pack that night with dozens of people, mostly families with small kids running about, there to see the fireworks, too). The tide was still pretty high, and I had no waterproof gear yet. And because it was a bay, the shoreline bent at odd angles--revealing heaven on earth in one spot, and then totally obscuring it a mere five feet away.
But all of that faded from my mind as I worked.
I had eyes only for the spectacle unfolding before me, and the conviction that I'd never get another chance to shoot it.
So I dug in, located the handful of trees I knew I wanted to capture the sun setting around, and I began to dance along with the waves and clouds, until the day finally relented to dusk.
You don't have to know all the bells and whistles of your gear, nor the ins and outs of of your craft, to be a part of something magical.
You simply have to find your place in the flow of images begging for you to capture them.
I believe strongly in the emotional connection between you and whatever you're shooting.
I believe the passion for making a remarkable image (and sharing the moment with all who will view your capture) can overcome any lack of "professional" knowledge.
Be inspired first. The rest will come. Find your own space to lose yourself in the final frontier of what you're shooting. Become an emotional part of the moment you're capturing. Magical things will happen when you do.
Most if not all of these trees are gone now, I'm told. Swept away by two years of damaging hurricanes and ripping tides.
But they'll live on through these images I love to share and others love to see. I'm proud of that. More proud than I can say.
Never be afraid to lose yourself in a moment, using whatever equipment and skills AND passion you posses. Find what inspires you to shoot, live in that space until every last scrap of light is gone, and you'll create magic, too!
I hope you and your camera soon discover somewhere equally magnificent to dream.
And when you do, I hope you share it--with me and all those lucky enough to view what you capture.
Have a great Sunday, everyone!