I don’t remember the man’s name or even exactly what he looked like, but I remember my thought process quite well after spending some time with him whilst on safari in the Sabi Sands.
He was a guest of mine and he sat opposite me in the front row of the jeep. He had with him a Canon 400 f2.8, some other lenses and at least a 1Dx MKii with him at the time. He wasn’t a well-known photographer but when he went home, he would be swarmed by his community asking him if they could print one of his pictures on the wall, and for good reason. His work was beautiful to look at. He got no financial gain from his images as he just gave them away and he was not on any kind of social media platform.
He simply loved the process of creating art…and he seldomly lifted his camera!
Here was man who had spent thousands of dollars on his safari and more on his equipment but would come back from a full day’s drive with only a few hundred shots at most, sometimes would only come back with a handful…sometimes none.
Why was it then that I was frantically shooting and capturing everything in front of me, and I had the luxury of waking up in this game-rich environment every day. Day after day and year after year but I was shooting like I had less time than he did.
He never intended to teach me a lesson but the words he said did have the needed impact. I have heard the phrase spoken and in my own head countless time but never really acted on it.
“One great image is worth more than a thousand good ones” he said when I asked him why he wasn’t taking any photos. It was so true.
Here I was firing off thousands of images a day and then sifting through them later, trying to find the gems amongst the rough. When instead, I should have been looking for that image in the wild. Picturing the frame in the moment and aligning as best I could to be ready to capture that one great image. Many thousands of images went into the bin after that safari and I began to scrutinise my work. trying to find out exactly what I wanted from an image and what I want out of it. In the beginning this was hard as I was sure not to like something one day and send it to the trash then wish I had it back another day as I learnt what I could have done with it.
However, the constant and strict self-supervision of my work meant that in time I developed a “style”.
My own style.
In time I started to separate from just creating a mechanical copy of what was in front of me and started to see the rare and artist moments in every sighting and I started to love my work.
Yes, there may be less images, but each one was worth so much more to me.