April 18th, 2018
I wish I could say the above photograph was meticulously planned by using my local knowledge of Glacier National Park; from the direction of sunsets over the continental divide, tracking fall weather patterns, planning a weekend camping trip, and patiently waiting for all of those pieces to perfectly align. I could say that, but the above photograph was anything but planned. This photograph was the result of an impromptu trip to Glacier National Park to take advantage of the last weekend of camping before the park closed for the winter season. The weather was unpredictable, making photography difficult between the terrific winds and horizontal rain. If this trip proved anything, it is that the best photographs come when you are least prepared and, in those moments, tests the skills that you have learned along the way. In this case, I and a friend were driving back to our campsite as the sun began to set and found the nearest parking spot to get out of the car to capture what you see here. There were better vantage points in the surrounding area but access to them risked running out of time. We had to make the most of what we had available compositionally and thankfully the sunset took care of the rest.
Hiking and camping in both a beautiful and unpredictable landscape taught me an important photography lesson; time spent honing skills is not only rewarded in preparation, but also in moments of unpredictability. Planning in photography is an important skill, but equally important is to be flexible and adaptable when plans don't go, well, according to plan. Planning also has a tendency to develop tunnel vision where your only focus is capturing a specific image and that image only; all or nothing. If nothing, then it may feel as if the day has been wasted, leaving you uninspired and unprepared for those unpredictable moments that may lead to a superior photograph. Through this I began to reevaluate my approach to photography. While I still maintain a certain level of expectation from myself, I'm also somewhat casual in that approach. Some days it borders on lazy, but the idea that a photograph can be had in any light and under any circumstance has made photography far more enjoyable endeavor.