on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Zen and the art of photography

Can we learn to avoid the frustration?

Krister Berg

Krister Berg

Krister Berg is currently an amateur photographer and meditation instructor. He is qualified in religious studies and works in Church of Sweden in one of the suburbs of Stockholm. His first steps as a photographer were in the dark room at school in the 80s. He worked in 90s as a professional photographer specialising in landscape, nature and commercial assignments. He has often featured in Swedish photo and outdoor magazines. He is also a member of the Swedish nature photographers association.


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We have all experienced it. Frustration. The situation is as follows: you have taken the day off. Travelled to a fantastic venue. Got up at dawn. The morning light is seeking its way through the mist. But you see no picture, and you know that the light will soon disappear. You are annoyed that you weren’t in place an hour earlier. The mist is receding, and still no picture. You try some shots, but you already know that the result will be useless. Your frustration is massive. Time and money feel wasted. I heard about a bird photographer who, in the 70s, acquired a new camera and went out on the marshes to spend the night waiting for the lekking of black grouse. At dawn, the black grouse start their call however the camera was dead. In despair, he pushes the camera into the marshes and went home.

The camera is still there. One can wonder what was more important - taking a photo or the experience of listening to the lekking of the black grouse? In nature, there are many lost ideas and expectations. Things we have thought about and hoped for but never achieved. The light was poor, with too little mist, a clear blue sky, poor autumn colours, not enough water, too much wind, rain, people, a forgotten memory chip, discharged battery. Taking all this into account, one wonders if it’s at all possible to take a photo.

However, the question must be asked: if I don’t need an income from my photography, where does the craving come from? Is my photography measured against my own standards or someone else's? Who decides what is good? Perhaps some of the cravings can be related to role models we have. Is it wise to have professional photographers as role models? Who must produce commercially viable photos? Photos that want you to return to the same place as them. Or to fill your bucket list. Ask yourself if your role models create problems or set you free.

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