In her moving song, Joni Mitchell sang about “The Urge for Going”. What she’s describing is a deep longing to experience life to the fullest. When this feeling stirs, it’s important that we listen and follow through with action. By breaking free from the daily routine, we make room for both artistic and personal growth. A large budget is not required for your next big adventure, nor is extensive travel. Chances are, there are unforgettable experiences in close proximity to your own home town.
1) Embrace Uncertainty and Let Expectations Go
From the Mona Lisa to Starry Night, every masterpiece once started as a blank canvas. In your photography, it can be helpful to have preconceived ideas of how we want our images to look. Yet, sometimes this can restrict our creativity. Allow yourself to work loose and free on these kinds of outings. Take what is presented to you, and work with it to the best of your ability. It just may turn out to be something spectacular.
2) Go Someplace You Normally Wouldn’t
Sure, Iceland may be on your bucket list, but your photography shouldn’t be limited to vacation time. If you look in the local newspaper, or visit the events page for your community, you’ll likely come across some terrific activities. Don’t be too quick to pass on those which may be outside of your comfort zone. By pushing yourself to try new things, you are forced to test your skills and find creative solutions. In doing so, you’ll gain the confidence to take your craft to the next level.
3) Join a Camera Club
These friendly groups of like-minded individuals typically meet a few times each month. Activities include judged photo competitions, gallery exhibits, guest speakers, and best of all, photography field trips. Large groups often receive discounted rates, making it possible to visit amazing locations for a fraction of the typical cost. Another benefit will be the camaraderie, and knowledge sharing from photographer’s of various skill levels. Inquire with your local library to learn more about camera clubs in your area.
4) Focus on People
Is there a friend nearby who has a particular talent, or excels in a certain sport or activity? These would make for an ideal photo opportunity, and can potentially lead to other opportunities. Perhaps there is someone in your life with a fascinating life story. Imagine how flattered they would be if you asked to talk and photograph them. Use your photography as a way to connect with your subject on a deeper level.
5) Write About the Adventure
I’m not referring to a long blog post, or a thick novel like Infinite Jest. Instead, create a little photo log to jot down some of your ideas. What is it about this journey that excites you, and what is it that really scares you? Be honest, as this exercise is for your eyes only. Use this space to work out any unwanted emotional baggage. You’ll likely feel an immediate sense of relief, and can look back to see how far you’ve come.
6) Create Lists of Potential Places to Go
Another great use for the notebook is to list all of the ideas for potential road trips. For the first round, no idea is too off-the-wall or ridiculous. Simply put it all on paper without editing anything. Over time, you can edit by adding new locations, or by eliminating some. Eventually, only a handful of places will remain. Those are your upcoming adventures!
7) Make Time for It
It’s not necessary to burn through your vacation time, or call out sick to have fun with your camera. You only need to decide on a day that’s convenient for you, and stick with it. Use your calendar to block off that time, and don’t let any non-urgent responsibilities interfere. If you wait for the “perfect time” you’ll likely never do it. By dedicating time to your art, you’ll feel good, and make a positive impact on other parts of your life.
8) Say Yes, Even if it Scares You
Now, a question to further our dialogue. When was the last time you did something with your camera that made you nervous? These opportunities should be embraced rather than avoided. Doing so frequently is a sure-fire way to build confidence and trump self-doubt. As Mary Kay Ash said, “A good goal is like a strenuous exercise – it makes you stretch.”
9) Do a Bit of Research
Make the most of your outings by piggybacking one adventure with another smaller activity. If you’re already out and about with your camera, why not drive an extra half hour for one more stop? Use the web to discover all the area has to offer. Just be sure to go beyond page one of the search results. The most rewarding treasures are sometimes found in old forgotten user reviews on page five.
10) The Plan Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect
No matter how well you map things out, there will always be a few dots that just don’t connect. This can either be viewed as a problem, or an opportunity. Just remember, perspective is everything. A large part of being a good traveler is the ability to roll with whatever may come. It’s in these unknown spaces where adventure really lives.