While I have done a bit of driving around to find a better vantage or hunting new landscapes and vistas, that is not the sort of “drive” I am talking about.I’m thinking more of the drive that makes us pursue more and better photographs of people, places, and things we have already captured.
I remember how proud I was of my first photographs of an elk. (You can see those photos and read about how not to approach an elk here- The Elk and the Tripod) I thought those images were amazing, that I was nearly ready to hop on a plane somewhere and work for National Geographic as a wildlife photographer. And yet, I kept going out, searching for more elk to photograph, thinking that I might somehow manage to capture some better images… And I am very glad I did. Looking back, those first images were almost laughable compared to some of the ones I’ve captured since.
And I realize now, that this image of a young elk is not the best photograph I can take of an elk. It may be one of the best I’ve done so far, but I can do better, I can keep improving. I can show more stages in the life cycle of an elk, capture different faces, different activities. I haven’t even come close to exhausting the possibilities with the few hundred images I have taken of them. There is a hunger to outdo myself… I suppose when I am out photographing, it is a very competitive activity, but the one I am competing with is myself.
There comes a point, when you realize that something is good, maybe even really good, but that you can do better, that you can explore more of the world and share the world in better and more expressive ways.I have so many photographs that I’ve taken that I think are just fantastic and amazing, but that isn’t going to stop me from trying to go out and create even better, more expressive images.
It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve photographed a species, if I feel I am in a situation where I can get better photographs or ones that show a different aspect of that species, then I am going to try for those photographs, even if I don’t have an immediate use for them.
I wouldn’t have the images that I do, if I didn’t hunger to improve and to share as much of the natural world as I can. It is the beast that gnaws from within. Sometimes the beast gets satiated, but then it comes back hungrier than ever. I hope you have your own inner beast, and that feed it all that you can