This old proverb was one that I heard a lot of growing up – it was a favorite saying around our house and one that I think has had a fairly significant impact upon me in numerous aspects of my life – not the least of which is my photography.
While digital photography is sometimes known for it’s spontaneity I’ve found that most successful photographers also have the ability to sit with a scene or subject for a considerable amount of time until the situation is right to get things just as they should be to get the picture perfect.
Patience comes into play in many forms of photography:
Landscape – there are many aspects of landscape photography that takes patience ranging from scoping out the perfect place to shoot from to waiting to get the light just right before shooting.
Sports – last year when I was at the Australian Open (tennis) I went along expecting that the skill I would need the most was to be spontaneous as a photographer but I came away realizing that the only reason I came away with any decent shots was that I’d really persisted and taken my time in thinking through my shots. It was only because I continued to shoot over a longer period of time that I honed my framing and exposure to get things just right.
Portraits – studio portraits can be a little more predictable than candid portrait shots but in both cases people are unpredictable beings and getting a pose just right or capturing an interaction between two subjects can take considerable time to get right.
Wildlife – taking photos of animals is even more unpredictable than photographing people and as a result there can be long waits to both find them in the wild but also to get capture them in a the right position, light and framing.
Macro – similarly taking macro shots is generally not an overly spontaneous thing to do, especially when your subject is a moving one (insects for example) and when you’re shooting in a natural environment when the light changes and wind blows.
The list could go on….
I find that the actual moment that you take an image is often a very spontaneous one but that to get to those moments you often need real patience.
Of course patience is not something you can really teach in an article like this – except to say that it’s a skill to work on and that great photographers generally set aside time to hone their craft.