The Ultimate Skill

Probably, it could be said, that patience is the most important attribute a photographer must have to be the best they can at what they do. Truly, it cant be stressed enough how important it is to let a scene develop when necessary. Whether it a landscape and you need the sun to burst through the clouds, a portrait and you need your subject to fully relax in your presence and in front of the lens or it is with a leopard who sleeps, yet by a water hole that is likely to be visited by prey species in the coming hours; patience is not a useful gadget that some can have and others willfully do without. Its absence will be detrimental to your project, in fact.

To reiterate, I must force my self into the first-person approach to illustrate the importance of the lesson. I have taken countless safaris into the wild. If I were to keep a ledger of how many times an impatient client dragged the rest of us away from a scene that was likely to develop into something monumental it would be 'as thick as an elephants ass' with logs of missed opportunity. Often, admittedly, it is our imagination that paints the picture of what we missed as we were not there to see it ourselves, however sometimes there is proof in the misjudgment.

I was a ranger/photographic guide for a decade. Guiding clients on an interpretive experience through the wilds of Africa. Although I was a photographer myself, most of my clients were not into the sport but were seeking the same thing, the most extraordinary encounters with Africa's animals. Most of the time I worked alone in remote areas of Africa but on occasion I would work in a guiding team where up to a dozen of us would head out on our jeeps with our clients every morning to search for the wildlife our clients dreamt of seeing. Our greatest advantage in these larger teams was that we assisted each other's search efforts through radio contact, meaning we effectively search twelve times more ground than if we were alone. It is through this radio contact that we learnt the devastating impact of impatience.

When in a sighting of, let's say, a leopard. It was called out via the radio that was intended for the other guides in the area. 'you have arrived at the sighting, how long you will be, when you have left - so that the other vehicle knows they can enter the sighting. On too many occasion to count I would have guests, photographic and not, wish to leave a sighting of sleeping lions or a leopard, for example, and even after clearly explaining the potential of the scene to develop into something spectacular, we would leave the animals to the next vehicle wishing to enter the sighting. Attached to my ear via an ear-piece I would soon hear the radio crackle into life and the voice of a fellow ranger, the one that replaced me at the sighting, ring out excitedly "stations…the four lioness have got up and seem to be stalking…stations…a buffalo has entered the sighting…lionesses keen" or "stations the leopard has noticed impala on the ridge and is actively stalking"

Whatever great battle or at least an attempt at a kill that ensued and that I had to listen to over the radio was heartbreaking and all I can do is return a delphic smile back towards my clients whilst sipping coffee and tea under the shade of a Mahogany tree, blissfully unaware of what their coffee-break and impatience has cost them.

Moral of the story, good things come to those who wait.



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