The Great Journey in Photography

Posts tagged “juan pons

Now Go Shoot

Yellow Finch

420mm f13 200iso 1/320sec

Continuing from what I was writing last week, one of the podcasts that I listen to whenever a new episode is released is the Digital Photo Experience with Rick Sammon and Juan Pons. I chose them because I like to listen to the show, it is as simple as that. There is no doubt that many of our choices are personality driven and it helps a lot to enjoy the information you are consuming.

On their last podcast Rick and Juan brought into the conversation a discussion about loosing motivation, how good photographers can get derailed and frankly overwhelmed by the competition and all the niches a modern photographer has to navigate. I thought it was a great conversation bringing up points that many others really don’t say. Anyhow, today I wanted to make just a few comments about maintaining motivation and staying away from the motivation killers.

Introspection is required. you have to do some serious thinking at some point, probably best when you are not in a funk, and id those things that can take the wind out of your sails. It is the little things that tent to trigger the downward spirals, and knowing what they are is the only way to deal with the drive they kill. For me there are a few things that often make me back slide. Probably the biggest culprit that makes me feel puny and insignificant as a photographer is seeing amazing photos from places that I really want to go to but can’t because it is just out of my reach. For example, I get a feed from National geographic that has a photos of the week section. Of course they are amazing images made at amazing places that I would love to visit but probably never will, because I just don’t have the means. After a while that gets depressing, can make one feel a little hopeless and insignificant I suppose.

When gear fouls up I lose time and opportunity to make great images and some times face financial setback. I don’t like that, it puts me in a bad mood and makes it a little less likely that I will get stuff working and get back out shooting as soon as possible.

Then there is a big one-overexpectation. I often set un-realistic goals and when I see that I am nowhere near them it can become discouraging. There is one upside to over expectation though, I am the sort who will never let go. I will keep going back time after time until those expectations become realistic and eventually, reality. It is a long hard bumpy road that always has failure and frustration, if you let it, it will slow you down.

There are ways to stay out of a funk too. Here are three things that work for me.
Take on a project. At any given time I am working on a project. One trick is to create a project that you will start and finish. I like to say it needs to hit MARC. That is, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Controllable. In general you want everything you do to meet MARC and it is essential for these little projects.
Buy some new gear. Probably the best side effect about getting new equipment is that it gets you out shooting. Testing and playing with new “toys” is always an uplifting experience.
Put together a portfolio of no more than 5 or 6 images. I don’t know about others but I now have tens of thousands of bird images and there are several that I consider to be really good quality. Going through the exercise of choosing just 5 of them forces you to review your accomplishments and the places you have been. God willing you will feel a sense of confidence and a lust to do more.

Now Go Shoot!

Thanks so much for reading. You can see more of my work at

Century Mark

Giant Osprey stare down

300mm f5.6 320iso 1/500sec

This post marks the 100th episode of the Diary of a Bird Shooter Blog. For over 2 years now I have been trying to relay my experiences and photography knowledge I have picked up along the way. It has been great, but it is now time to do away with the “Look what I can Do” mindset and transition into a more polished, responsible and hopefully more informative role. A while back I wrote a story titled “So Say You- Truth About Zoos”, you can read it here. Today I feel the need to moderate some of my views expressed in that post.

Juan Pons is a wildlife photographer whose work I admire very much. He is very passionate about never photographing animals in captivity. I have met Juan and I am certain that his passion is sincere but I do have my reservations. He directs us to a wonderfully detailed story from the Audubon Magazine titled “Picture Perfect”. It is a story about the realities of photographing wildlife from game farms and the business of distributing and selling images made from captive wildlife. You need to read it here. As you might expect photographing captive animals it is viewed in a negative light. I know there are crazy over the top environmentalists out there whose sole purpose in life is to separate nature from humanity. I have always held a grudge against those people, but the thought of applying journalistic standards to wildlife photography seems to have great merit.

I don’t think the line is as clear as we would all like those standards to be though. I know a lot of us want to do the right thing but can be duped, some of us would like to do the right thing but don’t always do it, and a few of us don’t care about the right thing, they just want what they want. Then the bigger problem is What exactly is the right thing? For example, I have photographed a number of birds that are rescue animals, they would not be alive if it were not for their “captors”. Is that over the line? I get nervous when I see giraffes in a compound only about a quarter of a football field in size but I have also photographed small birds that were kept in an enclosure the size of a football stadium. Is that really considered captive?..and on the other side of the coin I have photographed birds in the wild that were so tame and domesticated that you could literally pet them.

As with many things there is no absolute right and wrong, but the important thing is that we all think about what we are doing. To understand that it is not responsible to get the shot by any means necessary. I am not one for full disclosure of captive images either. I think it is in conflict with virtually every other genre of photography (except journalism) where greatest reward is given to those who create a look or illusion to the viewer’s eye and mind through lighting, staging, and post production. Perhaps the better solution is to be mindful that such images should convey the proper context of  the surroundings.

As we think about these things we all need to set our own personal policies and standards and live within them. The big thing to remember is that you really can do whatever you want with very little consequence but as I like to say a lot now “The Best Way To Get Good is By Being Good”. After giving it a lot of consideration I am leaning in the same direction as Juan.

I hope this gives you all some food for thought, and thanks to Juan Pons for his wonderful real life wildlife images and to Audubon Magazine for the great story, and thanks to everyone who is reading the blog. Here is to the next hundred!!

You can see more of my bird images at