Patience Truly Is A Virtue In Photography

Waiting for the best light or for a storm to break is often a gamble, but when patience pays off, the rewards can be sublime
We’re all friends here, right? And friends are honest with each other. So, when I tell you that my lack of patience is truly legendary, you know that I’m telling you the truth. In some cases, my infinitesimally short attention span has served me well, especially when it comes to not hovering around one spot with my camera for too long.

However, it has also bitten me at times. When it comes to landscape photography, there is no avoiding the need for patience, especially when the weather doesn’t look like it’s going to pan out. It is something that I’ve actively worked on over the years. In the past, if it looked like the weather for a sunrise or sunset would skunk out my shoot, I’d give up or move onto a different location altogether.

In a few instances, this turned out to be a good decision because I was able to salvage the outing. However, in other cases, especially when I had the fortitude to wait things out, I was rewarded with moments of pure drama and brilliance. Had I been impatient and moved around, I’d likely have missed the shot because the quality and availability of light was so fleeting.

Naturally, nothing is guaranteed when it comes to weather, but I’ve come to appreciate—and even get excited about—inclement weather when it arrives for sunrise or sunset. Sure, there’s not much getting around a completely socked-in sky, but it shouldn’t excuse you from being prepared with a strong composition just in case winds shift or a small gap in the clouds appears.

I’d be willing to bet that whenever a photographer describes a photo of theirs as having “dramatic light,” a big component to that composition involved finding that strong frame, throwing the dice and waiting. And, yes, for every strong “dramatic light” shot, there are likely 20 other shots that are flat. The key, though, is to be ready for those few precious moments when the light busts through and dances off the atmosphere. In those tiny seconds, you can either be futzing around from spot to spot—or you could be composed and focused. The difference is patience.


See more of Brian Matiash’s work at matiash.com.

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