The Importance Of Patience In Natural Photography

Image by Olivia Bell

It’s now a cliché that our society is super fast paced. There’s no time to relax. There’s no time for reading an article longer than 1000 words. Things need to be distilled into sound bites for easy ingestion. This attitude of go, go, go will not serve you well in landscape, nature or wildlife photography. While there are times you may need to bolt out of bed and hit the trail running before the sun rises, shooting natural scenes requires patience. 

Patience is important in natural photography (grouping landscape and wildlife in with nature here to make for reading ease) because you are likely not in control of the scene. You have a say in where you stand and point your camera, but often the scene is unfolding at its own pace, which is different than yours. This difference is what causes impatience in most of us; wanting something to be where we want it, but it’s not, yet (and maybe never will be).

The value of patience is seen over time as the lesson, repeated, becomes evident to the photographer. That value is in knowing you might have a particular photo in mind for, let’s say, a sunset. That moment is upon you and , you get your shot. Hooray! You pack up your gear and head back to the car and glance over your shoulder as an osprey glides through your previous scene and snatches a salmon from the still golden waters. Your jaw drops and a sinking feeling hits your stomach. 

What can you do about increasing patience for natural photography? 
It takes the effort to introduce patience into your life in general to have it available for shooting photos. There’s no quick cure other than slowing down a bit, getting used to the quiet times in your life when the TV isn’t on and you’re not madly clicking from link to link on the internet, looking to be entertained. Meditation helps some people while others like breathing exercises. Reading at least 20 pages of a good book is also good exercise as it trains your brain to stay on one topic for an extended period of time.

This does not mean multi-tasking is not good or advantageous. There are certainly times when it is precisely what is needed. But when it comes to standing in the cold for 20 minutes waiting for a bull elk to cross a stream while the light is starting to fade from the sky, the second most important item to make sure you packed that day is patience. Wishing the elk would hurry up will never, ever help.

What about you? What have you found helps you when you are waiting for a shot, or to stick around after and see what transpire?

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