Nature photography as a profession may be described by all of the above. My friends have told me that my job is one big vacation, and I’ve quit trying to persuade them otherwise. The benefits of the self-employed life are many and they come with the intrinsic cons as well. For a nature photographer the weather becomes god and the work is dictated by light and location not by a structured week or timed event. I’ve learned that scheduling is largely a waste of time except in the most general sense. I seem to change plans as much as I make them.
Feeling the affliction of the addiction to catch light is part of the occupation but certainly not the vacation. For example: For years I’ve been attempting to capture a mountain landscape which includes the beautiful rich spring greens that fill the boreal forest canopy at this time of year. It is a short seasonal highlight and fades quickly. As summer unfolds the shiny lime leaves turn a dark green and the leaf miners begin their destructive chlorophyll consumption. Last week, the perfect evening unfolded but I had scheduled unchangeable personal plans. So, I did my best to conceal my angst and enjoy the visual beauty of the night. It is a hard thing to turn off!
Ironically, the next day I had a scheduled photographic event which took me a few hundred miles into the mountains that I was so fondly admiring the previous evening. Cloudy skies moved in and I scarcely took one landscape photo. Had it been the night before I would have burned up the flash cards. But, the weather is what it is. By the way, that scheduled photo event was delayed another day.
All of this to say that while the shrewdest scouting, planning and weather surveillance is of great benefit, one should not become too demanding upon nature. While I appreciate all elements of weather it is not easy to appreciate them all the time! Successful nature photography performed consistently requires a tenacious but harmonious combination of persistance, patience and flexibility. Often it seems, the occupation feels like a vacation only when one can appropriately manage the addiction so it does not become an affliction!