In my 50 plus years of photography I have images that exist because I stopped to act, and only memories of those I wished I had stopped to capture. On the “acting” side I submit this series of images taken in February a few years ago near the end of Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park. I noticed a small stream cutting through the snow a ways from the road. I found a place to park my vehicle and trudged through knee-high snow to observe a beautiful miniature waterway with lattices of ice.
Why did I stop? I shouldn’t have. I was on my way out of the park at the end of a week of winter photography; my wife was in the van coming down with pneumonia and ready to head home; my wrist was incredibly sore and aching (I didn’t know it was actually broken from a motorcycle crash that happened a few days before I left for Yellowstone); and I was tired from dealing with freezing temperatures during the previous week. To top it off, my father had passed away just as I arrived in Yellowstone the previous week and I’d traveled to the funeral and back. Leaving my nice warm van was a difficult decision. As you can see, I had every reason to just keep on driving, but I didn’t. It was a good lesson in acting on the possibilities, as I’ve gone to that same location several times since to find . . . nothing. The stream was either buried in snow or non-existent. If I hadn’t photographed that day, I would have missed a wonderful opportunity, these images, and a great memory.
Now, when I come across a photographic opportunity and I just don’t feel like acting upon it, I remember that day in Yellowstone. So I stop and take a better look, and often enough it pays off. Remember, it won’t be there tomorrow, at least not the way it is at this moment that’s calling to you.