Life Lessons in Photography Class

Every time I learn something new, I have to start by learning all my old lessons over again.


You know how there are some lessons you just have to keep learning over and over? The ones you think you’ve figured out and then somehow forget? It’s happening to me right now. Again.

I just started a beginner’s photography course at the local college. After using my dSLR for ten years, I decided it was time to stretch myself and move beyond using the little green “automatic” button and (when I was feeling really crazy)¬†that one with the little mountains on it. It was time, I decided, to actually find out about apertures and f stops.

This being a beginner’s class, we started with the basics – a good thing really, given my attention span. And then at the end of our first class, our instructor sent us away with an assignment: return next week with two fall photographs.

And the Universe started to laugh. Because every time I learn something new, I have to start by learning all my old lessons over again.

The biggest lesson for me, always, is about giving up control. I so love the illusion that I am completely in control. And my biggest struggles occur when I get those gentle (and not so gentle) reminders that I’m not actually the boss of everything.

Like this morning. This morning I had a plan. I had an exact picture in my mind of the photograph I was going to capture. The sun would be rising over some local fields as the early morning fog began to lift. It was going to be perfect!

Except as I started shooting, I could see that the pictures weren’t working. I was facing towards the sun, and even though it was hidden behind fog, there was too much light. Everything in the foreground was too dark, and those beautiful foggy fields and trees? You could hardly see them because they were so washed out.

Disappointed, I grabbed my camera and crossed the road to see if there were any promising vistas with the sun behind me. I took a couple of pictures, and they were a little better, but I still wasn’t happy. I hadn’t captured the exact image I wanted.

And then I turned around to this:


And it was like a big, beautiful reminder: Stay open! Let go of your expectations, and just see what emerges. Trust the process. Trust me. 

When I got back to my car, the sun had risen above the fog and had lit the entire field with warm golden light. The trees that had been black silhouettes in my first set of photographs were now flashing green and gold, and the fog had lightened, revealing distant trees. The photos I captured weren’t the ones I planned on, but they were so much more interesting than the image I had wanted.

And once again, I was reminded about letting go, about giving up control, about staying focussed on the process and not the outcome. And so, until I forget again, I’m handing myself over to the Universe – at least just a little. Today I’ve got photographic evidence that this might not be such a bad idea.




Author: Sally

Writer, teacher, mom. Celebrating the beauty and mystery that surrounds us and learning to trust in the journey.

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