EL PASO – When my passion for photography started six years ago my sensei, friend, and fellow photographer, Victor Peña told me that photography was like marriage. “Many people think that being a photographer is a piece of cake, but it is much harder that it appears to be,” he said.
He also told me that to achieve a successful marriage a person has to work hard to get it. Photography is not much different. I have found that not all days are going to be happy and cheerful; there are days when things are not going to be as one plans.
I would be dishonest if I said that I have never gotten tired of photography. The truth is that there are times when I don’t feel like going out shooting. Is it that I hate photography or that I have lost my passion for it? Without a doubt I can tell you that is not the case.
I have noticed that it is not my photography’s fault but it is everything else around me that sucks away the passion from my soul. Feeling this way is not what matters instead what matters is how I deal with it. But this I can affirm – the worst thing one can do is put the camera down.
As artists, many of us fall into the trap of perfectionism. We have to get everything just right and if we don’t we start putting ourselves down. Maybe we are not working at the level we wish to achieve, or we don’t believe we are as good as the others.
It is a huge pressure to endure. I do not consider myself a perfectionist but there are times where I find myself stressing over the simplest error. I acknowledge that there are many photographers hundreds of times better than I am, but I love everything about photography. To me photography is freedom and a way to show people how I see life.
I believe strongly that it is important to push our creative boundaries in order to become better photographers, but too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Perfectionism contributes to making us lose our “first love” of photography, or any other form of art. True perfection many times is imperfect; it is just a matter of perspective.
As a photographer, I find it extremely important to stay inspired and motivated. These two elements are essential in photography and in other things I do in a regular basis. Without them it is almost impossible to create meaningful photographs. With advances in technology anyone can pick up a camera or smart phone and take a snapshot but it takes an artist with a passion to create a photograph.
A way I recharge my passion and love for photography is going out to nature, of course with my Canon DSLR at my side. I always try to go hiking or camping every time I have a break from school and work. Doing so enables me to return to work, school, and photography completely re-energized. There is something powerful about being out in nature.
Last summer my friend Oscar Caracoza and I took a trip to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park and hiked up the highest point in the state of Texas, Guadalupe Peak. This peak is at an elevation of 8749 feet above sea level. The hike is an arduous 8.5 mile round trip with an elevation gain of 3019 feet. The round trip takes about six hours to complete, but if you are like me and enjoy taking your time it can go up to eight hours.
The hike is full of rewarding views, which call for great photographs. One of my favorite parts of the hike is visible after the first mile and a half. The hiker gets to see a complete transformation of ecosystems. At the beginning of the hike all is yellow, hot desert but as you go higher the trail starts to change into a cool green forest.
Wildlife is not a very common sight on the Guadalupe Trail, even though the diversity of ecosystems allows for a great variety of animals. Evidence of their existence can be found if one takes the time to look for clues, such as tracks, nests, and dens. On my last trip I encountered various species of bird including the roadrunners, hawks, and hummingbirds.
Of course the biggest reward is getting all the way to the top. A spectacular view as far as the eye can see is appreciated. The view of the surrounding mountains and desert is awe-inspiring. There is a steel pyramid monument displaying the American Airlines logo, a U.S. Postal Service tribute to the Pony Express Riders of the Butterfield stage, and a compass with the logo of the Boy Scouts of America. At the base to the steel pyramid is the summit register inside a metal ammunition box where one can leave a signature and a quick memo of the adventure.
Photographer Ansel Adams is one of my heroes. His photographs of nature have long inspired me to go out and search for nature’s beauty. Adams was no stranger to imperfect images. “Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop” is a quote attributed to him. It reminds me that photography is not easy, but like hiking it is very rewarding when you get to the top.