The Goldilocks Syndrome

I attended a photography workshop in Page AZ these past five days—a much better way to spend Tax Day than, well, taxes. Anyway, as I have mentioned before, photographers, especially landscape photographers, are almost never happy with the conditions presented to them. The light is too flat, or there isn’t enough light, it’s too cloudy, or there aren’t enough clouds, and—worst of all—there are too many other photographers here. I was reminded of this on my way out of town headed to the airport in Flagstaff, when the cornflower blue sky was filled with fluffy white clouds, and I caught myself saying [yes, I talk to myself]: “of course, the sky and clouds are beautiful when it’s time to leave.” One of my workshop colleagues said last night, at a location in Utah, which had not presented the light we hoped for sunset, as he packed up his gear, “now the light will appear.” And he was right, though not by much. A modest amount of canyon rim light briefly appeared mauve and then quickly vanished. There wasn’t much, but all we could do was do our best to capture it, enjoy the moment, and then move on:

Move along, nothing to see here. The reality is, of all the things over which we have some control or influence, the weather, light, sky, and scape conditions are not on the list. One needs to accept or stress, and a big lesson in this workshop was to learn to accept.

Photographers are something of a whiny lot. If it’s not the weather and the light, it’s a newly-imposed tripod ban. One of the lessons of this week’s workshop was pretty clear: STFU and make the most and best of it you can. Serious photographers, well-heeled or not, enjoy a special luxury. While there are millions, maybe billions of people snapping shots around the globe, and some of them are very good, the group of people who invest time, effort and money into making truly fine photographs is much smaller.. People who take the time to study the craft, pay money to travel to places and work at it for 18-24 hours a day, are fortunate to be able to see what we love, and write it in the light given to us. We need to see this for the blessing it is. Put another way, were I in Goldilocks’ shoes, I think I have now learned to say: “Hot damn! A bear cabin with food and a warm place to sleep!”

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