The Intimidation Factor

Finally we’ve decided on where we’re going on vacation in May.  We’ve booked the airline flights and have a general idea of where we’ll go when we land.  Unfortunately it’s only one week, but we’ve had great vacations before with only a week.  So, where are we off to?

Eastern Sierras!  Mono Lake!  Mountains…desert…wide open spaces.  I can’t wait.

Pretty much all our vacations are out west.  Montana (four times).  Washington (twice).  Colorado (once).  California (half-dozen times or so, I lose count).  Utah (once).  Oregon (once).  Arizona (once).  The farthest east we’ve done is a week with friends in Marathon key and when we drove around Lake Superior.  Oh and Cape Cod.  There’s just something about the west that we love.  Certainly a lot of it is just the country itself.  The week we spent in Death Valley is probably my favorite vacation so far, followed by Utah and Colorado.  Our time in California is usually spent around Monterey, Big Sur and Paso Robles.  We’re big wine nuts and go to our favorite wineries every couple of years or so to taste new stuff, see what’s going on and pat the dogs.  Between tastings we do some hiking and exploring around and generally have a great time.

Photographically I’m not always on.  Some vacations I just blow it.  Like in Utah.  Overall I’m REALLY not happy with my output from that time.  I think it was because I hadn’t been doing a lot of photography and I lost my instincts.  Also, I fought the light and tried to shoot like it was perfect.  Resulting in really crappy photos.  Ditto the Lake Superior jaunt.  Crap piled upon crap.   My Colorado trip in the mid-90s produced some good work, but Montana was hit or miss.  In Washington, I did much better.    Unfortunately I was also suffering from Achilles tendinitis in both ankles and couldn’t hike at all.  Luckily I was healthy for our last trip to Big Sur and I got some terrific shots in Pinnacles, too.  But I’m not consistent.   Overall I can’t say I’m thrilled with my vacation photography at all.

So that’s why I’m intimidated as hell by the prospect of Mono lake.  And the Sierras.  And the desert.  I’ve been to each of those types of places before and have shot well from time to time, but this time I’m highly aware of myself as a photographer and am conscious of the fact that I have a tendency to fold under pressure.

The fact that I can’t be a total selfish ass is also part of the equation.  My husband is extremely patient and has never once given me a hard time about dragging him to weird places, getting up before the sun, stopping every five seconds to take yet another photo of yet another flower or being asked to hold a lens/filter/tripod/lens cap again.  Not once.  That’s one of the reasons I adore him and one of the reasons I restrain myself photographically.  We’re on VACATION.  It’s not an assignment for National Geographic.  I have to be really mindful of that.  He knows a lot of what we do is driven by my photography, but I never allow it to take over completely.

And back to intimidation.  Mono Lake.  Uttered by photographers with reverential tones of awe, it is definitely a place I can’t screw up.  I know it’s ridiculous to feel pressure, but I do.  And my trip is still over a month away.  And I have skills.  I just worry I’ll get overwhelmed and forget everything I know.  I’ve done it before.  But I’ve also done well on vacation and have to keep my head on straight so that I add this trip to my good list.

Anyway, that’s what’s been on my mind lately.  Today it’s snowing again so my spring shooting will have to wait some more.  I haven’t picked up the camera in a week and it feels weird.  No wonder I can only think about California and all that awaits.  Hopefully it’s just a phase and I’ll go out there feeling serene, confident and at ease with myself.

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3 thoughts on “The Intimidation Factor

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  1. I can sympathize, and Mono Lake, wow! The pressure is understandable, many pro’s who’s names are synonymous with great landscape photography have created beautiful images there. Creating your own, while not repeating what has already been done, is something I struggle with at every location I shoot. And the bigger the location name, the more pressure to perform I feel. But I have seen plenty of your work, you will do fine.

  2. just be perfect and it will all be fine! 🙂

    or put the camera on Auto.

    or buy postcards.

    seriously- it’s VACATION. Enjoy it. Take some pictures (share them with us) and don’t worry about the rest. When I get in a knot like that over showing (horses) I have a drink 🙂

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