Finding Photographic Balance in Hawaii

I recently returned home from a family vacation in Hawaii, where I spent nine days with my wife and daughter during spring break.  As time was ticking down to our departure a lot of friends and colleagues asked me what camera I was taking, what I was bringing as a backup, what lenses I would bring, where I would be shooting, what projects I had planned, etc.  A few were surprised when they heard my answer:  I was only taking a Fujifilm X100F, with an extra battery and a couple of extra memory cards.  That’s it.  No backup camera.  No extra lenses.  No defined plans to shoot (other than one which fell through).  I had no plans to bring a laptop either, just an iPad to edit on as needed.

I think there was surprise because my two loves, photographically speaking, are travel and street photography.  It is fair to say that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, I enjoy more as an artist than discovering new places with a camera in my hand.  It is the foundation of most of my business activities.  It is the basis of my blog, my Instagram posts, my workshops and so many other parts of my business.  I love the work that I do and the life that I lead. 

This wasn’t a work trip though, it was a family vacation, and the last thing I wanted to do was allow photography to dominate my time.  There will always be opportunities to take photographs but our children don’t stay young forever.  These nine days had to be about time with my daughter on the beach, time with my wife by the pool and time as a family enjoying activities.  I think the worst thing that could happen on a trip like this would be that I let my intense drive to make images dominate my focus and attention.  

The key for this trip then, as with most things in life actually, had to be finding the right balance.  I decided to allow myself time for just one photowalk per day, shooting whatever caught my eye during the walk.  All images would be taken in jpeg only and the keepers would be wifi-ed to my iPad where they would receive minimal post processing, if needed at all.  

One friend I spoke to about this plan commented that he could never do that as he would be afraid of missing a shot.  When I asked for examples he couldn’t provide any, other than to say that he felt like he always had to be prepared for any shooting situation.  This of course necessitates him carrying a messenger bag with two bodies and four lenses every time he travels, even to places like Disneyland with his kids.  I think one of the biggest differences between my friend and I is that I am ok with “missing photos”.  Completely ok with it, actually, as long as it isn’t client work.  The truth is that limitation serves to make me more creative so, if anything, traveling light makes me a better photographer.

To be fair, I wasn’t always this mindful.  As a matter of fact, it has only been two years since I wrote this article:

The night photography almost ruined my vacation – A cautionary tale

That night taught me a lot about being mindful and purposeful.  Sure, if I am traveling for professional purposes I will plan my shoots and bring the requisite equipment.  On a family vacation though it is important for me to remember that family comes first and not photography.  Yes, I will still shoot, but only as time allows.  Conversely, the next few months will see me in several European countries, as well as in Toronto, teaching workshops and shooting client work.  You can bet that those trips will be all photography, all the time.  

Balance, for the win.

All of the images in this blog post were captured as jpegs with the Fujifilm X100F, wirelessly transferred to my iPad (usually while sitting on the beach), and processed in Lightroom Mobile as needed.  It worked perfectly and once again I was reminded of how awesome the Fuji X System is.  

With that said, I hope you enjoy this brief glimpse into life on the beaches of Hawaii!

Until next time,

Ian

The Streets of San Francisco – Part Four

“Leaving San Francisco is like saying goodbye to an old sweetheart.  You want to linger as long as possible.”  – Walter Cronkite

Years ago, when I first started going to San Francisco,  I focused on shooting iconic landmarks:  the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, the view of the city from Twin Peaks, Coit Tower, Alcatraz, Crissy Field, Fort Point, The Presidio, Cupid’s Span, the waterfront and the beaches… the list goes on and on.

Over the years I have definitely felt a change though; those early photo focused trips have given way to unplanned days spent exploring with no agenda.  San Francisco is a remarkable city, full of charm and it is the simple things now that bring me joy and inspire me to shoot.  I am content to feel the energy on the streets, meet the people and find beauty in the day to day life of this city that I love so much.  San Francisco is like an old friend now.

With that said, here is the final set of images from January’s trip.  Until next time, my friend.

Cheers,

Ian

To view part three of this series click here.

The Streets of San Francisco – Part Three

“If you’re alive, you can’t be bored in San Francisco.  If you’re not alive, San Francisco will bring you to life… San Francisco is a world to explore.  It is a place where the heart can go on a delightful adventure.  It is a city in which the spirit can know refreshment every day.”  – William Saroyan

I’m working on this post while sitting on a balcony in Hawaii, looking out over the ocean while I write.  My wife is reading, my daughter is playing and I just finished a photowalk.  Life is good, and it got me thinking…

In the last 12 months I have spent time in Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto, Amsterdam, Paris and now, Hawaii.  A few of these trips have been for family vacation, but most were photography related (either teaching workshops or creating work for upcoming projects).  I’ll be home for a few months now, giving me time to catch up and enjoy springtime in Vancouver and then I’ll be heading back to Paris to teach a street photography workshop in July.

I’m incredibly fortunate for this life  that I lead.  No, that isn’t right.  I am incredibly fortunate for this life that I built.  It was only a few years ago that PTSD, a gift from decades of working as a paramedic, had a hold on me. It was a turning point though, one that set me on my current path that I wouldn’t change for anything.  Now my time is spent shooting, teaching, writing, working with my amazing clients, traveling and perhaps most important of all… ensuring a proper balance of work and time with my family.  I know I am rambling a bit here, but I’m feeling pretty grateful right now and maybe…. just maybe… this post can serve to inspire someone else to make a change they want to make in their own life.

How does this relate to San Francisco?  The photos in this four part series were made on a trip there in January, and I consider a couple of them amongst my best work.  Not all of them, but one or two will go into my portfolio for sure.  I was able to visit this city, and make these photos, because I changed my life.  That’s a pretty cool thing.

So, here is part three in this ongoing series featuring new street work from San Francisco….

To view Part TWO of this Series click here.

To view Part FOUR of this Series click here.