On a recent doctor visit, I was asked about activity level and exercise. I let the doctor know I go on hikes in the woods quite a bit, walk our dog, and take pictures. It doesn’t sound like much, probably isn’t from a cardio type workout. I know I do get my heart rate up from all the up and down hills and such. At the end of those hikes, I am so tired that a polar bear could probably cross in front of me without getting much reaction, let a lone a photographic response. I know I find myself in body positions that would make a yoga master cringe. Downward Facing Dog has nothing on Tripod Over Muddy Pond stance. Given the pain I am in the next day, I know I worked something.
Pain doesn’t always result in gain, if gain may be defined as creative output. I tend to walk, scout, let my curiosity wander a lot more than I photograph. It is much to my own frustration at times. Getting up a couple hours before sunrise, driving to location, wandering about, seeing what catches my eye seems pretty darn inefficient at times. By the time I get home, I am exhausted and perhaps only have a few photographs to show for it. I can hear the more enlightened of you already thinking it is the enjoyment and experience of being out in nature that I should be reflecting upon.
That person exists in me also, but so does the one seeking reward of a more tangible kind. The creative process is a murky continuum, drifting back and forth between what is process, and what is creation. Perhaps “reward” isn’t the proper term for it, because by now I have certainly learned to keep my expectations in check. After all, Nature doesn’t owe me a darn thing, and it would be arrogant to expect it. Perhaps it is more seeking evidence of being productive. Am I spending my time wisely? If I am going out to photograph, well, then, darn it – I had better return with photographs, not just a backache.
I think what can elude many, including myself when I let it, is that in this continuum, the results you obtain from a single hike hold as little significance as the benefit of exercise from a single workout. My own photographic archive is a result of a broad range of successes, failures, and insignificance in itself. I need to remind myself it wouldn’t exist if not for each and every one of those single events.