Failure is an option
Hi all! It’s #TravelTuesday here on Scott Kelby’s blog and that means I’m here to lay down something from the world of Photoshop, photography, travel, and life. Today is no exception! I’m Dave Williams—let me tell you a sad story.
There’s a shot I want to get so bad. It’s here in the UK and it’s dangerous! I want to get out on the water of the English Channel to shoot the Beachy Head Lighthouse from the sea. The problem, however, is that where there’s a lighthouse, there tends to be a reason! The lighthouse is accessible from land about 1.5 miles west or 2 miles east because of the high cliffs behind it. The only way is to launch from one of these two points and going via the water.
The shot will look amazing. I want to get a wide shot with the stereotypical red and white lighthouse centre-frame and have the enormous white cliffs taper off in either direction, and I want it at sunrise. I’ve tried to get this shot three times and failed. Here’s what happened: –
The first time I had an inflatable kayak. I drove through the night (it’s a 170-miles round trip) to arrive in time for sunrise. I was there on time and the twilight gave me the blue hour, so I hauled my gear—the kayak, life vest, paddle, waterproof bag with camera and drone—down a dead-steep hill to the cliffs and then down the cracks and ledges in the limestone, and was at the water’s edge about 15 minutes before dawn. The water was rough and I walked along the tide line trying to find a safe spot. The water was just too rough, though, for an inflatable kayak and there was no safe place to launch, so I had to turn myself back around and carry everything back up that insanely steep hill, back to the car, and try again another day. My legs were burning from lactic acid with all that weight on such a steep hill, and it was all for nothing.
The next time I quit halfway there, the weather report changed and it wasn’t even worth going. That’s two goes, and a couple of days ago was attempt number three. I left home before 1:00 a.m. to make it down to the coast. First light was forecast at 4:00 a.m. and sunrise at 4:46, so I had to get there with plenty of time to get in position. The first challenge I had was, with this attempt being at the other location, I needed to carry the rigid kayak I’d got down the stairs to the stone beach I’d launch from. It wasn’t light!
The next challenge was the launch. All the planning I’d put in by checking weather, wind, tides etc., was telling me there’d be a high neap tide with low wind, which tends to suggest the waves will be minimal. What I actually faced was something altogether different: –
The waves were enormous, but I pushed on. First, I put the kayak at the water’s edge and climbed in with my waterproof bag between my legs. But, before I could get the spray deck attached, the water swept over me and flooded me out. Unperturbed by this setback (as is my nature), I pulled the kayak back, turned it over to empty it out, and tried again. The second launch wasn’t all that much better though, turning me sideways and showing me the sheer power of the water. I was done in again by the sea and gathered everything back together to try again. Third time’s a charm, right? Unfortunately not. This time I’d managed to get settled and get the spray deck attached in time for the first big wave to come in and hit me, but the power of the sea was still just too much and I was fully inverted. I had to give up.
When I said this shot was dangerous, I meant life-threateningly so. I was cold and drenched through every layer—the sea had beaten me and I still don’t have the shot! Shame too because the sunrise was pretty cool that day.
But here’s the thing: if you have a target in your sights, don’t give up on it. I’ll be back to get that shot! (By the way, if anybody reading this has a boat in Eastbourne, please feel free to get in touch!) I’m not giving up on this shot—I’ll get it one way or another. It’s not worth giving up on something good just because it’s a bit difficult.
Don’t give up just because things are hard. I have a tattoo on my left arm which says “aut viam inveniam aut faciam” which is Latin and means either find a way or make one. If you can’t stop thinking about it, don’t stop working for it, because some things that are worth having don’t come easy. You are so much stronger than you think. Someday you’ll look back on all the progress you made and be glad you didn’t quit. If you fall three times, stand up four, because winners aren’t people who don’t fail—they’re people who don’t quit.