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No Regrets.
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Sunset over Lanai as seen from Lahaina Harbor, Maui, Hawai'i, 11 December 2005.

Sunset over Lanai as seen from Lahaina Harbor, Maui, Hawai'i, 11 December 2005. Nikon D70, 80-400 VR at 80mm.

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During one of my fall Yosemite workshops, someone suspected that great photographers — and even I — must have regrets over all the photos we must have missed over the years.



Equipment Failures

If you're prepared, you don't miss photos.

Use a checklist as pilots do for the same reason, and you'll never forget a spare battery, charger, cord, memory card or preventive camera maintenance.

Always have your camera with you with the safety off and ready to fire at any instant, and you'll never miss a shot.

Maybe also because I worked at a newspaper in the 1980s, I was trained always to carry a loaded camera. We also learned never to finish the last few frames of the last roll before we got back to our office. This way no matter what happened, we'd be loaded and ready to fire instantly. A newsman never has a dead battery, no film or no card space left in his camera anymore than a living pilot leaves the ground with too much weight or too little fuel.

We never use lens caps either. We'll use a UV filter on the front of our lens, but never an opaque cap.

We never carry a camera with its cap on; caps are only for when a lens is in its case — but never for use on a lens on a camera. Most news pros throw lenses in their bags without caps. UV filters are tough enough (especially Hoya's HD and HD2 filters) to protect the optics from anything, just as an opaque cap would.

A pro knows his gear instinctively. When he gets new gear, he practices until he knows it with his eyes closed. No pro ever takes a new camera or lens to a job before he becomes fluent with it.

Always keep your camera with you and ready to shoot, and when at home, school or office, keep a "go bag" close to you with your camera packed, charged and ready to grab and fire at any instant.


Missed Opportunities

We never cry over something we didn't get.

We know our limitations and do our best to be sure we're in the best places at the best times. If God and nature cooperate for our outdoor photos, fantastic. Even if we guess wrong about where the best clouds might be at sunset, we always make the best out of what we're given.

If it rains every day during a week long assignment, we're always ready and prepared for the 30 seconds at sunset (or whenever) that the sun does pop out.

If all we have is rain, we come up with other ways to complete the assignment. Winners never give up; that's what separates the winners from the losers.

If we think that there isn't going to be sun for sunset and go elsewhere and miss a sunset that does happen eventually, no regrets; we make the very best of that light wherever we happen to be.

We know we're dealing with whatever God and nature choose to dish out. We know we can't possibly master all possible conditions at all possible locations at once, so we do our best and never regret anything. We know we're not omnipotent, so we don't sweat it. We can't get everything, but we do get the best we possibly can.

It's like when I was playing sand volleyball. If we missed one, we all laughed about it. We knew we couldn't get every one. Contrast this to teams that were much worse than us, but that also got all grumpy and heaved bad karma on whoever missed the ball each time. Not only did we usually win, we also had the best time, which is the whole point.

Never blame others for anything you miss. Take personal responsibility for everything, and you'll never have any regrets.



We know that we can't be everywhere all the time. We do our best to be in the best places in the best times and are always prepared to shoot in an instant.

A pro never is seen at a location with his head down changing lenses or looking at an LCD after he's made a shot. A pro knows his gear so he's not having to look at an LCD while in the field to see if he "got it." He shoots with two bodies, one for each of the two lenses he carries (one wide zoom, one tele) so he never has to change lenses while on location. If he's only shooting with one lens, he puts it on before he arrives and he's ready to go.

The key is that we think ahead, check our checklists, are always ready to shoot, and do the very best we can.

Just as in flying, we prepare for all the foreseeable problems, like a dead battery, so none of them can hurt us. We expect and plan for the unexpected.

If something unforeseeable happens, like a meteor destroying both of our cameras, we have no regrets — we just laugh at the freak occurrence and shoot it with our iPhone instead.

It's easy to play Monday-morning quarterback or pick great businesses in which to invest after they got huge, but talented people never regret an inability to predict the future. We prepare for reasonably foreseeable circumstances, take our chances, and hope for the best.

As Thomas Edison observed, luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you're not prepared, you'll miss every opportunity, and that would result in regrets. Stay prepared, and there will never be regrets.

Note that prepared starts with "pre." That means you have to do all you work before the shoot. That's why it's called pre-paration.

When you know you've done the very best you can, you never have any regrets. Regrets are for people who got sloppy, were too busy talking amongst their friends, looking at their phone, fiddling with their gear or were too lazy to prepare properly and missed shots.

When you're prepared, paying attention and doing the best you can, there are no regrets. You don't need two cameras, all you need is to be sure you're always ready to shoot, stay alert, and always give it your best shot.


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Thanks for reading!



Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.


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23 October 2014