Why You’ll Be A Better Photographer If You Learn To Wait

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We live at a time that seems to pivot around instant gratification. People want everything now. Right now. Instantly. On demand.

It’s all quite convenient but not everything in life is served up on a platter at our behest. Sometimes we have to wait for things. And we often discover that when the waiting is over we value the outcome much more than we would have without it.

Yes, this concept applies to photography. Below I will explain how learning to wait will make you a better photographer.

Wait For A Scene To Unfold

There is a perception among some that street photography is entirely about speed and spontaneity. While those two factors do play important roles, street photography is a more measured craft than some people realize.

Rather than bulldozing your way along city sidewalks indiscriminately snapping away, slow down and take in the scenery around you. Pick an interesting spot, hang out there for a bit and let the right person walk into the frame.

You’ll probably go home with fewer shots, but this technique will almost certainly yield more keepers.

Photo by Jason D. Little

Wait For The Right Light

Light is the single most important ingredient in any photo, but light varies throughout the course of a day. When you’re trying to achieve a specific look for a photo, you need to wait for the type of lighting that’s going to help you create the desired look.

If you want to shoot natural light portraits, for example, midday isn’t a great choice. You’ll get much more flattering light if you wait until later in the day when the sun is lower in the sky. Similarly, this is why you always hear landscape photographers refer to the golden hour or the blue hour.

No matter what quality or quantity of lighting you want, you’re going to have to wait for it. Don’t compromise your vision by settling for “the light right now” when it’s not what you really need.

Photo by Jason D. Little | Rollei Superpan 200

Wait For Your Skills To Develop

So-called dumb luck aside, people don’t start out being really good at something. Going from basic competency to mastery is a protracted journey with plenty of hurdles to clear along the way.

Pressuring yourself to hurry up and get everything right or succumbing to the doldrums you’re sure to face will only make it more difficult to experience real growth.

As you practice new skills you need to remain patient with yourself. There are things you’ll learn more quickly than others, but you’re not going to reach expertise overnight. There’s no such thing as on-demand skill acquisition.

Keep practising and trust the process.

Wait For Success

I’m not necessarily referring to financial success or fame (though that could be part of the story for some people). Success, in this case, simply refers to the feeling of satisfaction that comes with achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Whether it’s starting your own business or taking a print-worthy landscape photo, these are the fruits of your patience. All the waiting — for the perfect light to shine, for the right subject to appear, for your skills to develop — leads to success.

Final Thoughts

Your wait could be a matter of moments to several years depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. Though easier said than done, there shouldn’t be a limit to your patience. Always be prepared to wait it out. Don’t settle for the mediocrity of immediacy.

Further Reading

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About the author

Jason D. Little

Jason Little is a photographer (shooting macros, portraits, candids, and the occasional landscape), writer, and music lover. You can see Jason’s photography on his Website or his Instagram feed.

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