Want to become a better photographer?
Put your camera away.

Sometimes the best way to become a photographer is to simply put your camera down and just experience those things that you love so much to shoot. As photographers, we often get too caught up in capturing the moment that we often forget to actually experience it from its essence. We tend to always be the spectator and rarely the participant. That’s a shame.

I was reminded of this a few days ago while visiting my son, Andre, for his birthday. One of the many things we do together is dive. Andre is in his last semester studying Multi-Media Journalism and Social Media Marketing as transfer to Florida Atlantic University from Georgia.

Andre is an accomplished underwater photographer and land based photographer with an excellent eye. In addition, he works as a Dive Master and Scuba Instructor and is in the water a lot. We were lucky enough to have a 13′ tiger shark in the area the day we were diving but the battery in Andre’s D850 wasn’t cooperating and left his entire underwater rig useless. He was pretty bummed out, feeling he may be missing a rare opportunity.

I said, “when was the last time you actually just dove without being at work or taking pictures? Just enjoy the dive…” Well he got a pretty nice birthday present with some exceptional encounters that he will always remember.

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If he had been shooting, he might have captured a few nice shots, but he would have missed the very spirit that has lead him into the water in the first place. It was his love first for the water and live there in that got him interested in photography. Not the other way around.

The lesson here is, we always do our best work photographing what we love and understand the most. Its what sets us apart from our colleagues and why so many exceptional photographers specialize in subjects they find most interesting. They are propelled above the crowd of occasional shooters of the same subject.

If we are always shooting the subject we are not experiencing it in the same way that led us there in the beginning. A great way to renew your perspective, formulate new ideas and simply learn to stay connected is to

put your camera down once in a while and just do it!

Take a sunset without your camera, play with your kids without your camera, stroll a botanical garden without your camera. You get the idea.

Andre admitted that it was the best birthday present and the dive was way better than even capturing and amazing image.

You should try it sometime.

Check out Andre’s images on instagram or facebook at @oceanprophotography or visit his website at oceanprophotography.com

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