Effort and Image making

December 27, 2021

What the effort of getting up predawn get you


I have a scrawled note in my pocket, hastily written while preparing for something else. It may have been written a day ago or several weeks ago but here it is.  It says, do you put all your effort into your image-making? I don’t mean hiking for miles to get to the best locations or your dedication to the craft of photography, but rather giving your all while you are there. Being totally in the moment when you press the button. 

I know I don’t. Not every time. I can’t.  

This came up because I was thinking about the upcoming holidays and what I was going to do. I have this time to go out with my camera and take some images for the first time in ages. Then the lists started to arrive.   

Getting the main event, dinner planned for, I’ll go out a bit later. Housework that needs to be sorted. Another delay and what happens is that all the carefully laid plans go to waste. This is part of it, and we all have to put up with this sort of stuff. 

This is the stuff that gets in the way when you are out. What’s happening at the day job. What bills must be paid, will the car start. There are a host of little things that impact us and, in some cases, have an adverse effect on our image-making. They can’t not. No matter how nice the area is these thoughts impede on our thoughts and get in the way.  

Don’t think that a professional photographer gets out of this. Outside of making the images they still have all the same bills to pay but rather than having a salary they suddenly must be all things to all men. From accountant to marketing and sales. Stock controller to driver.   

All these things drain away, picking at our ability to concentrate on the task at hand. What is a beautiful location is suddenly reduced to paying the electric bill and the moment is lost? I think this is why images made by amateurs are sometimes better than pro’s as they do not have the same set of constraints that pro’s do. They can concentrate on the image for the time that has been allotted and put aside everything else. What amateurs don’t have is consistency in shot-making and a standard. This consistency moves the pro photographers hit rate from, say, 1 in 50 to 1 in 20. It is this that sets them aside.   

Richard Rawlings Photography is a proper company run by someone who knows the business side of things, the huge, “but” here is that I have to run it alongside a day job in order to pay the bills. This restricts the amount of time I have to develop a business and improve my photography. alongside the pressures of work. As a result, sometimes my work is a bit hit and miss and there are times when I know I should get out of bed to do the work required but the stresses of the day before make it….., well, it doesn’t happen.  It takes effort to maintain it.

Of course, the reverse happens that I get thoughts during the day about what I am going to do, how I am going to move things forward. What you get is a scribbled note, so I don’t forget. Like the idea for this post.  

Leaky Boxes  

In speaking to a psychologist recently she was telling me how she puts things into boxes and leaves them there. If she did not she would bring her work home, fret and worry about it all and her life would suffer. This is a thing I have used for years but the boxes always leak. Stray thoughts come out and interfere with what I am doing. They distract me from the job at hand, both ways, and things suffer as they must do.  

And the more you try not to think about things the more you do. Don’t think about the elephant. What elephant, the one you’re not supposed to think about!  

Lip service. 

I remember going to a sales lecture several years ago run by LDL. They told a story about the French president and lip service. This is a different strand of thought to commitment. Again, it is not getting up and walking for miles but a question of how much you really want it and what are you going to do to get it.   

You cannot get a dawn shot if you are still in bed at sunrise. You need to get up before dawn and travel in the dark so you can get to where you need to be prior to the sunrise. This may mean a 2.30 or 3am starts. Which means either little or no sleep. Suddenly you are fighting fatigue as well as the normal day to day pressures of life. But it’s what you need to do.  (This is where pros win out, their automatic pilot is set far higher.)  

The problem with goals is they will not achieve themselves. Setting them is easy but they require effort and external input. Dedication, commitment, and consistency. Above all a desire to get there.  

How badly do you want it? How clearly can you see your endpoint? What happens when you get there what is the next stage. What are you prepared to do to get there? You see the moment you don’t get up for the sunrise you lose. No matter what you say you’re only paying lip service. The goals you set, be the number of images a month or how many followers on social media need a plan. When the sky is grey, and you can’t get out there must be something else you can do to drive things forward.  

This is all very different to my being part of the countryside and reacting to little things, but it is the nature of the beast. One cannot exist without the other. You need the quiet moments to get the images, but you need the other bits to pay the bills and live. Despite YouTube telling you otherwise. Being successful so you can go out for days and just take images means lots and lots of hard work behind the scenes.  

But when it all comes together. When it’s right. When luck and hard graft come together and you get 4 aces and a king.   

Those are the moments I live for.  


Please take time to have a look comment and or like some of my images HERE on my Instagram account

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