10 Life Lessons Photography Can Teach Us

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

Photography may be a profession for few, a hobby for others, and maybe an escape for some, but it is a teacher to all of us.

When you freeze a moment stolen from time, it is bound to instill some changes in you.

Here is a list of 10 essential life lessons the art of photography can teach us.

1. Be patient

Patience and Perseverance are the two Ps in photography.

The final image you see is not the result of mere luck or a wonderful accident.

(In the wise words of Master Oogway, "There are no accidents")

Behind every perfect shot is the story of a photographer's broken back from long hours of crouching, of burnt flesh and sweat turned to blood under the scorching sun, of staying still till bones turned into concrete, of a photographer's perseverance to get THE shot.

This perseverance and patience teach us to stay strong and hold our ground in life, to achieve our goals, no matter the cost, the wait, and the pain.

This effort may be bitter, but the fruit is sweeter.

2. You lead discipline, and soon discipline leads you

Photography is an act of discipline. It requires the utmost level of commitment and dedication.

If you wish to capture the first light of dawn, you will have to wake up at 6 AM. The sun won’t come to greet you in your bed, nor will any achievement.

To catch time by its tail in life, you must learn to respect it.

This is key for setting one’s priorities straight and abiding by a strong code of living to turn aspirations into accomplishments.

3. Vision without focus is just chaos

The most crucial thing in photography is to identify the target and lock the focus.

The same can be said for life too, don’t you think?

If you try to bring everything into focus, you'll end up focusing on nothing.

Having a clear focus blurs out the distractions and gives an unobstructed sight of your goals.

It is an arduous task in the beginning, but once the habit kicks in, everything becomes much clearer, and you won’t even realise when your life shifted from manual to autofocus mode.

4. Keep shooting your shots

A major part of photography involves approaching strangers or communicating with clients.

Being a photographer, you need to have the courage to face rejection and move past it.

You can’t dwell on your best achievements either. You must always keep striving to make your best better.

Just like that, photography teaches us to keep moving forward in life, to have the zeal to keep learning new things and to set new goals outside your comfort zone every second, without giving up.

5. Balance is key

All the principles in photography eventually zero down on creating balance in the composition. But how do these principles apply to our lives?

Pretty much like the principle of Leading Lines, all your actions should be directed to lead you towards your ultimate goal in life.

Just like the principle of Symmetry, your efforts should mirror the heights of your vision.

‘Less is more’ is at the heart of the principle of Minimalism and the secret to wellbeing. Being selective about your targets and decluttering your plate uncomplicates life and gives your mind the much-needed space.

6. Always be prepared

A photographer's backup is like Doraemon's pocket.

From batteries to parachutes (not literally, just the ones that keep you afloat in the word of imagination), one can find everything needed to tackle any situation in there.

That’s not all.

Photography also teaches you to not only prepare yourself to expect everything but nothing.

You could have the perfect plan and a suitcase of gear to capture that sunrise, but the weather can betray you and shroud all your dreams and expectations.

We can only adapt and improvise to turn those constraints and change of events into a tide in our favour.

This preparedness is fundamental in life too. It is a brutal reminder that we can only control our actions and not the outcomes.

While shooting, it is essential to have hawk-like eyes, otherwise, the golden moment you wanted to capture could slip away in the hundredth of a second.

You must always be prepared and have the presence of mind to quickly assess and react to any situation that confronts you.

Similarly, in life, it is important to stay vigilant and seize the opportunity when it presents itself, as it may never present itself again.

7. It isn’t about being equipped but skilled

They say, "Equipment doesn't matter."

This statement is partially true. The equipment merely gives you an edge, but to truly make use of it, one needs to have the skills to understand the science behind it and its applicability to the art.

The camera is merely a wand, do not mistake it to create magic all by itself.

The true magician lies in you.

Similarly, in life, some are better equipped with facilities, technology, and most importantly wealth than the other lot.

Surely, it gives them a head start, but it is by no means a teleportation ticket to the summit of success.

For instance, even the most expensive oven wouldn't be able to fix a faulty recipe. Thus, a good cake is not made by a good oven, but a good baker.

The saying "equipment doesn't matter" can be drawn as a parallel here because success in any walk of life cannot be bought or handed down to anyone. It is cultivated by your efforts and skills.

8. Behind every success, there are a hundred setbacks

The caption above pretty much sums up everything.

The transformation from a crooked frame to one that is perfectly balanced doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye.

That pinch of excellence is an accumulation of all the lessons one learns from their mistakes.

These setbacks are a part of growth.

After all, the true character of a photograph develops in the darkness (pun intended).

9. To be truly wise is to empathise

It is as Alfred Eisenstaedt had said, “It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.”

In other words, you must dare to open your heart before you open the shutter.

You see, when you're shooting, you're not only seeing the world through a lens but also the eyes of your subject.

One cannot capture another's footsteps without treading their path. A certain kind of awareness and vulnerability hits you when you slip into someone else's shoes.

This sense of empathy and compassion is what gives pulse to the image, and every beat of your heart.

It also comes with a humbling experience that forces you to count your blessings and be more kind to others.

All this is essential to build healthy relationships and connections throughout your life. It not only makes you successful and content but truly wise and knowledgeable as you learn from other people's experiences.

10. It’s all about perspective

Every photographer's primary mission is to capture their surroundings from a new perspective.

If you're doing it right, in the process of accustoming your mind to do the same, the camera lens almost becomes an extension of you. You might as well call it your third eye!

The different approaches and angles each photograph takes towards the same subject create depth and a fine line between illusion and reality.

Even the tiniest creatures captured on a macro lens appear humongous and the largest can be manipulated to look like insects under our feet.

This lust for a different perspective changes one's perception of life itself.

One naturally learns to see the order in chaos and the beauty inherent in all things.

Every action is aimed to seek light in the darkest of corners, to make the ordinary into something extra - ordinary, and the perfection in the imperfections.

It also sets loose your inner perfectionist who pays attention to every little detail that makes the big picture.

Sigh. If only 10 points could ever be enough to cover what all photography has to offer.

To truly realise the therapeutic and meditative journey photography has to offer, you must get your hands on a camera and experience the power a camera wields.

If you want to learn a thing or two about life, what better way than to capture it?

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