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Mississippi River in flood by Richard Keeling on 500px.com

I spend a lot of time griping about this and that when it comes to photography. Mostly because I like the pleasure of venting hot air, be it usefully expelled or not so usefully so. My seemingly ever increasing lack of sympathy with current photographic trends gives me a ready supply of gas and I frequently place myself in situations, such as photography competitions, where the pressure can ramp up most exquisitely.

But although I expend a lot of thought and effort here and elsewhere on such issues, it’s really only a sideline.

What really counts is the pleasure of taking photographs. By ‘taking’ I don’t just mean the act of pressing the shutter. No, I mean the choice of camera, lens and image recording media before the shot, all the various technical tweaks that go into setting up the camera to take the shot, and all the later processes, be they chemical and/or electronic, that produce a final result.

The apogee is the feeling I get when I look at that final result. Sometimes I can be disappointed, expecting more than I got. But, more often than not, I get a thrill of pleasure from this tiny, incomplete slice of my life recorded on film or as a computer file.

This shudder of satisfaction is really all I ask from my photography. When I put myself in situations that require me to take it further, such as critiques or competitions, I am moving into instructive but ultimately unsatisfying areas. I’ve spent a lot of thought analyzing exactly why they are unsatisfying, but knowing the why doesn’t really help with getting back to the point of my photography when I find myself diverted.

Simply put, I allow too much to get in the way. It’s a failing and what’s more, it’s unnecessary. Relishing my good fortune at being able to do what I do is what I need to embrace. That’s all that is required.

So why is it so hard?