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How Birds Can Help You Learn About Your Photography Journey

When you feel like you don’t know what to do, what’s the next step? Frustrating, isn’t it? I think wisdom is found anywhere, from renaissance statues to butterflies, and even birds. Speaking of which, here’s a weird photography insight that I got by observing them.

Photography Journey

Why birds are amazing

Birds are really awesome. Well, I guess they are, depending on what aspect you are looking at. I mean, we all know they can litter a lot, right? But one thing that has always amazed me is how birds can reach their destination halfway around the world, without ever having been there nor knowing how to get there. Take the Arctic Tern, for example, it’s a bird that goes from Greenland all the way to Antarctica. They make the trip without ever knowing where it is.

Life will find a way?

There’s this scene in Jurassic Park where raptors that were not supposed to reproduce ended up making babies on their own. That’s when Jeff Goldblum said, “Life will find a way”. That is weird but it is true. Birds fly miles upon miles, butterflies too and even turtles. They all reach their destinations without knowing how to get there.

Now, call me crazy but I think that the same hand that made them also made me and you. And if these animals have an internal GPS, I am sure I have one too and so do you. A GPS that allows us to reach our destination as a photographer, wherever that may be. I don’t think any of us have any problem with that GPS concept. But between where we are and where we want to be is a big, scary gap, it’s called process. And if there’s something I’ve learned from nature, it is to embrace it.

Photography Journey

Embrace the process

Try to think like the birds think (don’t worry it’s not that hard with your brain not being larger than theirs). They probably feel a strong urge to go in a certain direction, and I am pretty sure that’s it. They can’t possibly know 100% how to get to their destination for sure because they’ve never been there. All they did was start, and also began embracing the process of life.

Normally when someone talks about the process of photography, they usually refer to stuff like exposure and the making of photographs. But what I would like to talk about here is more about the overall process of photography. I think it is all about accepting where you are and knowing paths will open up along the way. It is up to us to be open to it, and to be brave enough to take step after step, just like millions of birds, butterflies, and turtles.

Photography Journey

Just start even if you don’t know the end yet

But unlike birds, sometimes our destination is not as we expected when we started, that’s where we need to be open. I remember a while back, when I was thinking of what to do with my life, I had no idea what to do next. I accepted that and felt that I would end up figuring it out somehow. I started with the lowest hanging fruit: Video Games. At first, I wanted to go into Video Games, then I realized what I really liked were the graphics. I did not want to spend all that time learning about art, so I entered Graphic Design. From there I got a camera on an impulse and started photography.

When I started with photography, I had no idea what I would do, nor did I have an idea of what I needed to do. All I knew was I needed to start, even if I knew not what I was doing. I had all of the intent of being a wedding shooter but now I am more a street photographer more than anything!  You see, I think photography in an overall sense works that way. Decide to be a photographer, start right now, then be open to other paths that are in front of you. Providence will take care of you. Embrace the process.

Getting past road blocks

Of course, at every turn there are frustrations. No one said this stuff would be easy! But the thing is, you can recognize that you are in the middle of a process so that you can learn to embrace it.

  • Learning your exposure is frustrating you? Embrace the process.
  • Keep missing shots? Embrace the process.
  • Still not where you want to be? Embrace the process.
  • Have no clients knocking at your door? Embrace the process.

Embracing the process is simply accepting the fact that you are where you are supposed to be right now. Once it is time for you to move on, you will. But you will never be able to move any step further if you do not accept the process. Say no clients are knocking at your door, you haven’t gone trough the process of marketing your work yet. It’s pretty simple really, your situation will probably never outgrow your own skills.

Photography Journey


I don’t know where you are, reading this. But I’m pretty sure you know what you want out of photography. Will you trust your inner GPS and take the first step? God only knows what’s in store for you.

All I know for sure is that you can always figure things out along the way. Embrace the Process. Be yourself, stay focused and keep on shooting. Please share your experiences in the comments below as well.

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Olivier Duong
Olivier Duong

is a Haitian-French-Vietnamese graphic designer turned photographer, he is the co-creator of Inspired Eye Photography Magazine. This ex-gear head now teaches photographers how to develop their eye, heart and mind. Join his photography newsletter to keep in touch. You’ll receive weekly inspiration, a free beginner’s course, tutorials and more.

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