Slow down…

Some days I try too hard with my photography.

Do you know the feeling?

… commitment and purpose meets with an emptiness inside. Try as we might, on some days it is a struggle to conjure up any creative vision or energy to inject into our photography.

Now, I have learnt to slow down and even stop, with out guilt. For me, it is the “without guilt” thing which makes a huge difference in how quickly I can bounce back with creative vigour.

I spent a few days wondering the sand hills north of Sydney a few months back.  I lacked any real motivation so I just decided I would enjoy walking and if I made no pictures that would be ok.

Mamiya 7II / Velvia 50 film / Steve Coleman

Mamiya 7II / Velvia 50 film / Steve Coleman








I relaxed and took the pressure off myself.

I walked and just enjoyed the warm sun; must have walked for an hour or more without even thinking of my camera.

I have this habit of framing and arranging what I see as I walk. I look at everything I see and break it down into compositions. It can be exhausting at times. But this day I did none of that.


I just let my mind zone out. It was so relaxing… then I saw something that just grabbed my attention. It was nothing too remarkable, just light on the sand, but just relaxing had put me back into the zone. I was ready to make photographs again. I spent the next few days capturing so many wonderful photographs on film. Had I tried too hard I think I would have missed many of these images. I would probably have gone home early.

My learning for myself:  don’t try so hard.

Some more photographs from this sand dune series can be found here.

Photographs were captured on Velvia 50 120 film / Mamiya 7II camera.


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Here are some other posts I have written which may be of interest to you here:

  • What makes a photograph great?: here
  • Interview with photographer Huntington Witherill: Some very good insights on what it is to be a photographer: here
  • The importance of light in photography: here


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One thought

  1. Slowing down is certainly a difficult skill to teach yourself. I say skill because I am not quite sure its an inherent ability, though I am sure some have a knack for it more than others. Over the years I’ve gone from being trigger happy with the camera to being OK with only taking maybe 6 exposure on a weekend camping trip. My ability to see, create, and envision the photograph before me has increased dramatically as a result, sure I still make mistakes, a ton to be honest but I am more at ease with that seeing it as part of the process now. Its like you said above, if your not feeling particularly inspired photographically sometimes its just better to enjoy the path in front of you for what it is.

    Sometimes what you decide not to photograph is just as important as what you do.

  2. Bloody difficult to slow down when that light is fleeting and I am furiously working the proper exposure, composition to capture. Indeed freeing to come upon stable light and know it will allow you time to muse, reflect and hopefully, get it as you envision it.

  3. Hi Steve, thanks for dropping by, appreciate the comment thanks man. How true, slowing it right down often affords us insights we would have otherwise passed by. Think we’re all a little guilty of it, at least in some way; my particular nuance is walking with my head tilted, trying to polarise and frame a particular composition with my polarised sunnies. To break the habit I often just put my cap on, allowing me to look at the bigger, or smaller, picture without beginning the whole compositional ‘rules’ thing.

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