Eight Principles of Nature Photography

July 12th, 2013 by Robert Rodriguez Jr.

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I’m at the Omega Institute teaching a sold out week long workshop “Nature Photography and the Art of Seeing.” This is truly a privilege for me as I have always wanted to combine the concepts of mindfulness and photography—how what we focus on and what we’re aware of at any given moment shapes our approach to photography. This is especially true in nature where all that matters is you and your thoughts.

As part of my opening remarks to the students, I explained my 8 principles of nature photography which I recently put together. Of course this is not an authorative list for all situations and all photographers, but for the purposes and goals of the workshop, I think it was important to share. And most of all I truly believe in and try to practice each of these daily in my own photography. I hope they provide some insight and perspective for you.

  1. The worst thing you can say or think as a nature photographer is “what’s wrong.”

  2. Approaching the time you spend in nature as a privilege, a gift, a moment by moment experience allows you to see and appreciate “what’s right.”

  3. Gratitude is the best emotion in nature. It’s also the most difficult to express at times because we want to control the results, control the technology, and control our creativity. And most of all, we want to overcome our creative shortcomings.

  4. In nature there is very little we can control. We can only be open to the each situation, each opportunity, and be aware of how we’re reacting to it. We can control how we react to what’s happening.

  5. There is an intrinsic connection between nature and the breath. Only when we are aware of our breathing can we be most aware of nature. This is true for life in general, but for nature photography it is crucial.

  6. Technology is a tool. The camera is a tool. It is there to serve us, not for us to serve it. The faster you decide how and why to use the technology, the more it will get out of the way. And the more it will become a trusted friend, a tool to serve your creative vision, rather than something that dominates your process.

  7. Photography is a language, a visual language of light, form, color, and allegory. With it we can tell stories, convey emotions, and express our opinions about what we find captivating in nature.

  8. The best thing you can do as a nature photographer is to have an opinion. Passion is good, but having something to say is better. It reveals you as a photographer to others. And best of all it reveals you to yourself.

As always, let me know if you have any questions or feedback to offer – it’s always welcome and I enjoy hearing from you. Thanks for reading!

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