Tip #66: Keep It Simple

May 15, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Oh, if we could keep it all simple - lives, clutter, schedules. Since this is a blog about photography, I'll let the professional organizers deal with the clutter and schedules; I'll stick to a few tips on keeping the photography simple.

For nature photographers, there are two ways to follow the K.I.S. (Keep It Simple) concept.

1. Reduce the complications by staying focused. I used to try to get all kinds of things done in the morning before heading out to shoot. That meant walking the dogs, feeding the animals, cleaning up the dishes, making the bed, pulling weeds, folding laundry, packing up lunch, etc. all before driving to a location for shooting at sunrise. In the winter, when the sun comes up around 7 in Colorado, this isn't too big of a deal. But in the summer, when sunrise can be as early as 5:30 a.m., trying to get chores done before leaving the house is just unrealistic. I was often one of two things: the photographer strolling up late for sunrise or the photographer imitating a zombie due to my lack of sleep.

I have come to learn, since I don't have a live-in maid, seven dwarves or helpful dogs, that it will all be there waiting for me when I return (other than feeding the critters who have on more than one occasion reminded me that they come first!). So stay focused on your task, leave all your stuff behind, and just bring the equipment you need. (Check out earlier posts, such as tips 8, 9, and 10, for ideas about what to keep in your car so you don't have to keep moving items around while trying to get out the door.)

I also realized, that when I worked a full-time office job and photographed on the side, I worried about a lot of unnecessary stuff in the mornings before heading out the door. I just don't worry about these things when I head out to shoot.

For one thing, I love being able to pull my hair back into a ponytail and stuff it under a hat. The critters and landscapes don't care if I am having a good hair day. It also means I don't worry about what my hair will do when I am standing in the rain and snow.

I also love the fact that I live in hiking pants and fleece. Attire for office jobs typically isn't very comfortable, functional or practical for photographing outdoors. On more than one occasion I tried to shoot before work in the morning only to regret it. That activity typically wound up with me coming to work with goose poo on my shoes, grass stains on my knees or dust from willow bushes on my pants. So I tried to carry a change of clothes and shoes for work and that just meant another bag to carry and get out the door.

Moose_2Moose_2This bull moose was following a cow who appeared to be in heat at the beginning of rut season at Brainard Lake, Colorado This photo of a bull moose was taken one morning in early autumn before work. I am lucky enough to live in a state where I can photograph moose in the morning and be at work an hour later. But it was a perfect example of coming into work looking a little disheveled after standing in water and willows for a couple of hours at sunrise. And of course my co-workers didn't quite understand my excitement about photographing moose at 5:30 in the morning when they asked me if I was okay (I guess because of my appearance!).

So keep it simple, focus on one thing at a time and be mindful of where you chose to put your focus.

2. Keep your shots simple. There is also the idea of keeping your shots simple. By staying focused on your task at hand, and reducing your stress while getting to a shoot, you can focus on simplifying the images. This topic is actually covered in a few other blog posts. See tips 18, 21, 25, and 39.


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