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Monday, May 21, 2018

Plans are Fraught with Peril

Photography, in general, takes a lot of planning.  Sometimes it is planning that big trip to Yellowstone and sometimes it is just planning to photograph some of the local flora and fauna in your own backyard.  Whatever you choose to photograph,  I think we can all agree that we need a plan to be successful.

About two months ago, I started preparing and planning for a particular shot to be added to my "Bluebird Project."  I invested both time and equipment to try to get everything figured out beforehand.  In particular, I was using a new IR triggering system to capture songbirds in flight.  I had practiced on several occasions and I got fair enough results to apply them to actual project. I determined to use my newly acquired experience to capture flight shots of the bluebird as they traveled to and from their nest box.

I carefully monitored and waited for the bluebird eggs to hatch, as they always do.  One day, while performing a normal check, I found that the nest had been raided.  The eggs had been removed, thrown to the ground and mostly eaten.  I determined it was not the normal suspects such as the raccoon or opossum since the nest was still fully intact, and the pole I use would not support the weight.  At one point, I even blamed the neighborhood black snake.  I believe, after quite a bit of examination, it was most likely done by a competing bird species.

The whole situation was completely out of my control, but none the less, my plans were ruined.  There would be no flight shots.  It was is at this point, that we all have a choice.  We can "throw ourselves" and have a pity party.  This might involve moping around, questioning why it happened , and what could have been done differently.  I could beat myself up for weeks with the question "why?", but the results would have been the same.  I would not have photographed any birds and not changed the situation at all.

Instead, mostly based on experience, I picked myself up and immediately started the next wave of plans. I knew that I could not get the flight shot I wanted, but I could improve the situation by starting back to feeding the birds.  Generally I stop feeding birds once nesting starts as it upsets the bluebirds and could interfere with nesting.


Forsyth County, NC - Taken soon after the nest failure.  Move on to the next plan!

So, I began feeding the birds and also setup my hummingbird feeder for the next project.  This will start the creative energy and anticipation flowing again.  There will be another time for the flight shots, but that can't stop you from shooting and planning. Sure, it is a big disappointment when plans don't come together and sometimes it can be really tough when several big plans fail in sequence.  The latter, of course, being the reason many people quit.

The bottom line is that I many never convince you with mere words to hang in there and never quit. In the end, it is a matter of personal ambition that drives you to the next level.  I see it in myself and others all the time.  It is what sets all of us apart from the average quitter.  Don't fall into the trap of expecting all of your plans to succeed, because they never will.  Instead, focus on making the next plan successful.

Your photographic career will be filled with other quitters.  They are the people who don't get what you are doing and try everything to make you unsuccessful.  They could be your girlfriend, wife or even someone you thought was your best friend.  You cannot listen to them, because they will drag you down and keep you from completing your plans.  This goes for any area of your life.  Quitters always hang out with other quitters!  Don't let yourself be sucked into that world.

I will leave you with these steps to becoming successful in life as they were told to me many years ago by a wise man...


  • Never make a major decision in the midst of a personal crisis.
  • Never seclude yourself from friends/family when going through a storm.
  • Never listen to your fears. Dread distorts your view of reality.
  • Never give in to self-pity.
  • Don’t dwell on “if only” and “what could have been."
  • Don’t overlook the good things that happen to you everyday.
  • Don’t become absorbed with yourself (focus on the needs of others).
  • Don’t quit living while going through your storm.
  • Never forget that God Almighty is sovereign.

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