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Amateur vs. Professional part VI

July 10, 2009

I have no idea how long this Amateur vs. Professional series will go on. I suppose for as long as I have something to say on the subject. In fact, I very likely will leave it for a while and then come back to it later as more thoughts occur to me.

I want to elaborate further on my last post regarding risk taking and, at the same time, revisit a photo from a couple of months ago taken at Bombay Hook.

In order to get this picture, I simultaneously had to take three “risks”:

  1. I had to lay down on the ground to get down to the fox’s level. This shot simply wouldn’t have been the same had I been standing up and looking down at the fox. (Plus, my standing would likely have made the fox feel intimidated or threatened. That might have caused it to run away or become aggressive to defend itself from the perceived threat I would have represented.)
  2. This fox is a wild animal. Wild animals are inherently unpredictable. I was only 10-12 feet away and it could easily have run over and bitten me. Having already projected such a possible outcome, I knew that I’d use my camera to keep the fox’s teeth away from me. (Lesson: planning ahead to mitigate risk is smart thinking.)
  3. I was laying right in the middle of a dirt road. Actually, not just in the middle of the road but across the road. Had a car come along, there is no way it could have passed without running over some part of my body. Once again, I mitigated this risk by observing the fact that my car plus one other (belonging to another photographer who was also there photographing the same fox) were parked in the road. Between them, our two cars blocked enough of the road that it was unlikely any other cars would have come through without slowing down to see why we were blocking the road.

All of the above is a matter of photographic style. It is not dependent on what brand of camera you use nor even what type of camera. Someone with a compact, point-and-shoot could just as easily have laid down in that road and gotten a similar shot.

So what if if you have bad knees or mobility problems or there is some other reason why laying down in the road would not work for you? I am not speaking literally here. This is more about attitude. It’s about the approach one takes to getting the shot. There is plenty of room for variety in different styles and different approaches. The key is that those who are willing to go the extra mile, take a bit of risk and do something unconventional are the ones most likely to come away with the pictures others will Oooohh and Aaaahh over.

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