Before my flight to Arizona last week I decided to upload a movie into my iPhone to keep me occupied during part of the three hour plane ride . Riding Giants is a surf film about the history of surfing and riding monster waves with a focus on surfer Laird Hamilton. And again, like my previous post on inspiration, this post has a message that is not as obvious as the footage you can watch above. Yes, Laird Hamilton is one of the most amazing surfers to ever exist. I have known of him since my teenage years, thanks to legendary ski film maker Greg Stump, who is an inspiration discussion for another posting. The inspiration here comes from the fact that Laird and all of his friends wanted to surf the biggest waves out there. Surfing a big wave is not as simple as paddling your hardest and dropping in. The bigger the wave, the faster it is moving, and the faster the surfer has to be moving in order to land it. These guys worked really hard to figure out how to do this.
As I watch my 10 month old son trying to figure out how to walk, I see this trial and error. He is not quite there, but I know that eventually he will come running across that floor towards me. It is that process of trial and error in order to find success that I find inspiration in. The continually working on the problem at hand to find the solution. Is that not what photography is all about? This sums up the last 20 years of my life–trying to figure out how to take a better picture. There are days when I bring back the mother load of perfect images, and then there are days when I throw out the entire crop. The key here is: was it a unique learning experience for me? Was that day that I took all those trash photos a stupid mistake, or an attempt to try something unique and new? A lot of times it is the first scenario, but more and more it is the latter. I like it when it is the latter, because I know that I was not a complete dumb-ass that day. I pushed my personal envelope and probably learned how to do something new regardless of the outcome. If it was a complete failure, I now know how not to not fail like that again.
Tomorrow, when you head out to take some photographs, remember, it is okay to fail, as long as you continue the journey towards succeeding. There will come a time when all of the trials and errors add up to slingshot you forward, and that is when you will reach your biggest success. And the funny thing is that instead of being unprepared, you will realize that you have trained for that moment your entire life.