Bob, Rocky Mountain National Park.
I do most of my nature photography alone. Sometimes a subject presents itself spontaneously when I am on a trip, other times I head out for a specific photo location with a specific set of subjects in mind, but it is usually alone.
Every once in a fun while, I get to go out with a photo buddy. I enjoy these times that a partner can go with me. It makes the trip more fun, and if the drive is of any length, it goes faster with a buddy along.
Sometimes you can share equipment, or hold a diffussion umbrella over a flower for each other, or hold an errant branch out of the field of view, or shade your partners lens from the sun while they set up a special shot.
Most important is the sharing of memories. Lots of places are linked in my mind to the emotion of the place and the picture taking and the joy of sharing it with another. White Sands with Stan, Bear Lake with Bob, and the Old Mission Peninsula with Jack immediately to mind.
A joy shared is a joy multiplied! And if we get caught in a downpour or other unfortunate photographic experience, well, misery loves company. And you can both tell the tale.
It isn't easy to find a good photo partner. If your taste in landscapes is to pull over to a turn-out, roll down your car window, snap one shot of El Capitan in Yosemite and drive quickly on, you need a photo buddy whose pace is pretty much the same.
If you hike up get to tree line in the Rockies and then spend an hour shooting one small, wind-twisted pine from every angle and with every lens in your bag, you need a photo partner who is attuned to that kind of photography.
I tend to spend a lot of time and energy on one photographic subject so it is not easy to find a photo partner with the same inclinations. Suitable photo buddies are a rare and valueable find.
It all started many years ago with Stan in Oklahoma. We were doing a lot of non-photography traveling together when we discovered that we both love photography. After that, we would allow some time for photography on trips across Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas. White Sands one splendid evening before and after sunset was a real highlight.
Bob is my longest term photo buddy. We have been taking pictures together for well over 20 years. Life doesn't seem quite right if we go more than a year or two without spending two or three days up in the Colorado Rockies. We've also taken pictures in Michigan, Alaska and other places. We have acquired a lot of photos and a bunch of great memories.
One glorious fall afternoon, we were sitting on some house sized boulders up on a mountainside. Surrounded by golden aspen leaves, we looked down on Bear Lake which reflected the sky and clouds above. Long's Peak, the Keyboard of the Winds, and other mountains were in the distance. After hours of photography, were were just sitting there in the cool breeze, drinking it all in. "It doesn't get much better than this!" Bob said. I agreed. We weren't just talking about the place and the photography. It was also about wonderful friendships and a profound appreciation of the Creator who made all the splendor that surrounded us.
Other photo buddies have been added to the list. Dave and I made several day-trips together in Michigan. We have memories of sharing both mosquitos and sunsets at Bishop's Bog. We will always have a certain fondness for Trillium Ravine. When it is blanketed in flowers for two short weeks in late April, it is beautiful. One fine spring day, Dave's wife Sharyn called and left a message: "Dave wants to know if Jim can come out and play!" Trillium ravine was in bloom!
UPDATE: If you love birds, see the recent Point Pelee post here
Some of my photo buddies don't even take pictures. They are good friends who enjoy the outdoors and visiting together while I take pictures. At Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Jack watched me for an hour one day while I crept up on a muskrat and slowly sank deeper into the muck. Jack also watched me fall through the ice into the very cold waters of Lake Michigan at the Old Mission Peninsula.
Loretha watched me work my way carefully up on an eagle and take several photos I would be truly proud of. The sound of my camera bothered me somehow. By the time I figured out there was no film in the camera, the eagle was gone. Loretha also saw me go through the ice one late-winter day at the Old Mission Peninsula. Some photographers are slow to learn.
I have a couple of semi-photo buddies who aren't in to stopping to take pictures. David in Oklahoma is just not wired for patient picture taking. When we travel together I don't plan on taking any photos along the way. Even at that, there have been a few times when we came upon something so interesting that David has yelled "STOP AND TAKE A PICTURE OF THAT!" Of course, I comply.
All of my photo buddies have two things in common, different as they are from each other and from me. A love of creation and a love of the Creator. That seems to be the common bond.
So this is to all of the photo buddies I have, both with and without camera. "Blessings upon each of you!"
And if you love photography, may you be blessed with good photo buddies too.