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The Force is strong with you—photographically speaking. I can sense it.
But before you can become a Jedi photographer, you must learn to harness the force.
Here are some lessons that Yoda and crew can give you to help you on your journey.
Punch it, Chewie!
The Force is divided into two—the Light and Dark sides. There is balance.
Photography is the same. A great image is about balance–in the composition, light and shadow, and meaning and style. To create great work, look for balance in your photographs.
“I cannot teach him. The boy has no patience.” – Yoda
Above all, photography takes patience. Whether it be improving your camera skills, strengthening your understanding of light, or achieving the business success you desire, you won’t get there without patience.
Photography is a lifelong pursuit. You need to be prepared for the long term, and be patient with the struggles that you face on a day to day basis. You’ll get there in time.
Have Endurance and Persistance
These Jedi traits go hand-in-hand with patience. When Luke first began his training on Dagoba, Yoda had him running circuits through the swamp. He needed endurance. When he gave up when he tried to lift the X-Wing from the water, Yoda wondered if he really had what it takes to be a Jedi.
Photographers need endurance and persistance, just like the Jedi.
This is going to be a long journey. If you don’t have the endurance to work at it for years, you won’t get there. Ditto if you give up after setbacks or failures.
Let’s lay it out straight. Failures and setbacks are expected. Be persistent, learn from them, and move forward. That’s when photographers really improve.
“This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things.” – Yoda
Yoda seriously wondered if Luke would be able to become a Jedi. Even though the Force was strong with him, he was always craving adventure and excitement. As wonderful as those things are, they take your mind off the present.
As a photographer you need to be present, most importantly when you’re shooting. If you aren’t giving the situation your absolute and complete attention you are limiting yourself. Great photography comes when you’re 100% present and aware. If you’re thinking “Gee, this is going to look great on my blog” or “Wow, I’m going to get so many Facebook likes for this shot” you’re doing your work (and your clients) a disservice. Be present. Be focused. Great work will follow.
This concept also extends to where you are with your work. It’s easy to get caught up dreaming of what your future as a photographer will hold–longing for the day when you can shoot here, buy this snazzy camera, or photograph that bigtime event.
(pssst!: if you are thinking about buying a new camera, check out our camera buying guide – now go back to reading this post)
You can do incredible, life-changing work with the camera you own, in the city you live in, with the subjects you have access to. No exceptions. Be present with your career and your talent, and you’ll make amazing images.
Fear Is The Path To The Dark Side
“Fear is the path to the Dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering” – Yoda
Fear is a big obstacle to becoming a Jedi photographer. It can prevent you from taking the photos you want to take, and pursuing the opportunities you want to pursue.
But know this. Becoming a Jedi photographer is not about eliminating fear. It’s natural to feel fear in the face of the unknown.
The key is to not act from fear. Act on your passion, despite the fear.
Feel, Don’t Think
“Feel, don’t think. Trust your instincts.” – Qui-Gon Jinn
Thinking is awesome. But when you’re shooting, you need to let go, and feel. This is where preparation becomes important. If you’re constantly thinking about camera settings or rules of composition, you’ll miss moments and images that really mean something.
Practice until you can operate your camera without thinking. Study composition until it becomes instinctual.
And when your’e shooting, feel, don’t think. Your instincts are one of your greatest assets as a photographer. They’ll draw you toward unique images that will have impact instead of dull ones that simply follow the rules.
“You must unlearn what you have learned.” – Yoda
The older we get, the more pre-conceptions we have. We think we know what’s worth shooting. We have expectations of what others will think. We worry that they will see our work as silly.
The more you can unlearn these pre-conceptions, and clear your mind, the more you’ll really see.
Photography is, in large, about seeing what others do not. You need to get rid of a lot of mental baggage to be able to fully open your eyes to the overlooked details that make great photographs.
Size Matters Not
“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm.” – Yoda
A big expensive camera doesn’t make you a great photographer. Nor will it automatically take great photos. It’s all about the mind and the eye behind the lens.
A big rockstar status isn’t required for great work either. Don’t worry if no one knows your name. You can be a small fish, but create work that is massive in skill and impact.
Don’t let size intimidate you. Or lull you. Each and every photographer has to work hard for great images, no matter their fame or gear.
Be Good Against the Living
“Look, good against remotes is one thing, good against the living, that’s something else” – Han Solo
When Luke practices his lightsaber skills against the remote, he succeeds and gains confidence. But Han reminds him that practice is only part of the equation.
It’s easy to get lured into the sense that you’re advancing if you are doing lots of practice. But practice is only useful if you eventually go up against the real thing.
Everything is different when the pressure is on. Prepare yourself as best you can for that moment. But in the end, you’re going to have to jump.
“I don’t…I don’t believe it.” – Luke “That is why you fail.” – Yoda
To become a great photographer you need to believe in yourself. This isn’t about over-confidence. It’s about knowing that you will get there, with hard work and perseverance.
Knowing that you’ll do it is what will keep you going in the rough times. If you start to think you’ll never make it, you’ll have already sealed your fate.
Do or Do Not
“Do or do not. There is no try” – Yoda
If you approach a difficult situation with the notion that you’ll try to do it, you weaken yourself.
Photography isn’t about trying. It’s about shooting. You need to get out there, with your camera in hand, and photograph. Over, and over, and over again.
Trying to become a better photographer isn’t enough. You become a better photographer by doing.
May The Force Be With You
Becoming a Jedi photographer isn’t about what camera you use, or how much you know about composition, post-processing, or workflow. All of those things come with training.
Instead, it’s about your mindset. With the right attitude, and some hard work, you’ll become a true Jedi photographer.
So take up your camera, get out there, and go for it.
May the Force be with you.
And some great light as well.