Successful snapshot strengthens self-confidence


Ana Manzano

During the summer my friends and I went to Capen Park, partially to hang out, but mainly so that I could learn how to photograph portraits. After hiking to the spot where I wanted to take the photos, I noticed the scenery was beautiful. The place where we were taking photos was a cliff, so it was very elevated. The cliff had no foliage, allowing me to see the landscape clearly. I had a perfect view of all that was below me. There were lots of trees and the faint sound of a creek. The sun was setting, so only the tips of the tall oak trees were illuminated with a golden light. It had been sunny all day, but in the afternoon there were a few wispy clouds in the distance. 
I wanted to photograph the scene then and there but only had portrait lenses, which are specifically used for closer shots. A landscape picture with a portrait lens would’ve been wildly out of focus, so I left to go take the portraits but promised myself I would return.
In early September I took an assignment to photograph something relating to nature. The cliff at Capen Park immediately came to mind. When I entered the park, I got an extreme sense of déjà vu: the camera bag on my back, my friends talking behind me, the hum of the cicadas that come out at later hours, the setting felt familiar. I arrived at the park, tall trees surrounding me, the rocky soil beneath my feet, I walked up to the same cliff to take the portrait and was done in a span of 10 minutes. I had such a clear idea of the photo I wanted that taking it was straight forward, and this lack of difficulty was disconcerting. I came to expect technical difficulties when taking photos, and the fact that taking this picture was as simple as assembling the camera and taking a few shots was unnerving.
On the one hand, the directness of the photo was strange. There was no playing with settings, no camera difficulties, no moving to get perfect lighting. On the other hand, this photo gave me greater confidence in my skills. Before this, I dreaded plugging in an SD card into my laptop and beginning to edit. I disliked looking at my work because I could only see its flaws. This picture is the first few of my photos I enjoyed looking at and was proud of.
This photo taught me that challenges should be encouraged but are not mandatory. When learning something new, difficulties aren’t something to fear. Problems and mistakes are the only way we learn. This picture taught me to celebrate when everything works out and move on to the next challenge. 
What is the most challenging photo you have attempted to take? Let us know in the comments below.