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#TravelTuesday is here and I, Dave Williams, have this week’s installment of wisdom for you, free of charge!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but who are “they” and what else do “they” say? Sometimes, all we need is a little inspiration, a little motivation, and a little quote. From the world of travel and photography, here are some of my favourites to put you in the right frame of mind on this sunny Tuesday before travel comes back to life. Well, it’s sunny here in the UK! Hopefully, it’s sunny where you are, too!

Which is my favourite photograph? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.

Imogen Cunningham

It’s weird that photographers spend years or even a whole lifetime, trying to capture moments that added together, don’t even amount to a couple of hours.

James Lalroupi Kelvom

If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.

Lewis Hine

Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.

Peter Adams

The camera is an excuse to be someplace you otherwise don’t belong. It gives me both a point of connection and a point of separation.

Susan Meiselas

My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.

Steve McCurry

If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.

Jim Richardson

You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.

Joan Miro

All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.

Richard Avedon

You don’t take a photograph – you make it.

Ansel Adams

To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.

Elliott Erwitt

What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.

Karl Lagerfeld

There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.

Ansel Adams

I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.

Diane Arbus

Photography has nothing to do with cameras.

Lucas Gentry

The picture that you took with your camera is the imagination you want to create with reality.

Scott Lorenzo

Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.

Diane Arbus

It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.

Paul Caponigro

Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.

Don McCullin

We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.

Ralph Hattersley

Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.

Aaron Siskind

When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear.

Alfred Eisenstaedt

Photography is the story I fail to put into words.

Destin Sparks

The eye should learn to listen before it looks.

Robert Frank

It’s not enough to just own a camera. Everyone owns a camera. To be a photographer, you must understand, appreciate, and harness the power you hold.

Mark Denman

The context in which a photograph is seen affects the meaning the viewer draws from it.

Stephen Shore

The way that light hits objects, I think, is one of the more important things that sculpture and photography share.

Rashid Johnson

What do we feel when we look at a good photograph? We just want to be there, right at the exact moment that photo taken.

Mehmet Murat Ildan

When a moment in front of me appears to be particularly special, whether it be by beauty or experience, I capture it. I usually find a reason to justify taking that photo – symmetry, or color, or contrast – and it’s my hope that my photography sheds light onto what I see and do on a daily basis.

Connor Franta

The art of photography is all about directing the attention of the viewer.

Steven Pinker

It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. You need less imagination to be a painter because you can invent things. But in photography, everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary.

David Bailey

Ok, so that was 31, but who was counting?! I hope there was some inspiration in there for you and I hope you all have a great day!

Much love

Dave

I’ve told this story before, but it’s totally relevant!

I’m Dave Williams and I’m here every week for #TravelTuesday (because I’m a travel photographer… and I know it’s Friday, but Adobe decided to release some awesome updates on Tuesday so I was relegated, but just imagine, ok?) and last year in Florida I was shooting two new KelbyOne classes in the studios when, having called it a wrap, I had a day to myself to explore. This is what happened on that day: –

Yep, I added a little more ink to myself and got a new tattoo from the best shop in town! (It was definitely the best place in Tampa – they can’t lie on a sign, can they!)

Stick with me, I’m going somewhere with this….

So, that unpronounceable mumbo-jumbo is actually Icelandic and it is the words ‘Thetta Reddast” flanked by two Icelandic runes, one for safe travels and the other for love. The strange D/P looking character is pronounced ‘th’ as in Thor (Þórr) the Norse God. The term is Icelandic and despite having no discernible translation, it certainly has a translatable meaning. Here’s how I know…

In the winter of 2016 – specifically October 29th – I was in Iceland on an adventure and decided I was going to explore the cave waterfall at Gljufrafoss, which was an incredible experience albeit not the smartest decision I ever made. Take a look at this: –

You can see the waterfall in the cave through that short canyon behind the incredibly wet photographer named Dave, somewhat blurred from the water inside my iPhone camera! It was very cold and I was reminded why I am smart in some senses but not in others as I had a complete change of clothing in the car, and a towel. I got some awesome shots inside the cave of the water thundering down the rock cascade, crashing into a small pool at its base before flowing out towards the sub-Arctic Icelandic countryside, concealed in a frozen mist. The part of me that wasn’t being smart was the bit responsible for my Nikon D810. I realise that my job is to educate and inspire, and I promise you can trust me! Anyway, having dried myself off and believing I’d dried my camera off I began on the 351 mile (565km) drive to the Westfjords where I had an appointment to shoot the resident foxes of the Arctic Fox Centre, Ingi and Móri. I wasn’t far into the journey when I noticed the camera was behaving a bit strangely. The first thing that aroused my suspicions is when the camera took a photo by itself with no intervention from myself… I thought that was a bit strange and I cast my mind back. The camera is ‘weather sealed’ and although it was wet when I emerged from the frozen canyon I thought I’d done a pretty good job of drying it off with my microfibre cloth. Apparently not. The camera occasionally fired off a shot by itself so I decided to take further steps to dry it out, including opening the ports and keeping it warm, and by using a bag full of dry rice.

That evening, having arrived in the Westfjords, I took this photo: –

I was in the Westfjords, far away from civilisation in an area covering 8,598 square miles but containing only 7,115 people, one third of whom are in one small town named ísafjörður. This mountain range was in the middle of the Westfjords and the lack of any notable population and no moon meant there was a pitch dark night sky and the faintest of Aurorae were visible. I set my camera on a tripod and had it firing off shot after shot, walking away from it to stare up at natures finest light show. When I stepped back toward my camera I turned the switch to ‘off’ but the camera continued taking shots, not turning off. I removed it from the tripod and took out the battery, affording myself a short term solution to what would turn out to be a long term problem. I made my way to ísafjörður for the night, leaving the camera in the bag of dry rice beside the warm radiator in stark contrast to the sub-zero winter temperatures that it transpired were to cause the cameras ultimate demise.

The following morning I headed to Súðavík with what was now just a very expensive paper-weight bearing the ‘Nikon’ emblem, not working at all. I arrived at the Arctic Fox Centre and met Midge. This is Midge: –

Midge gave me the warmest greeting as he cleared the snow from the parking area to make space for me, and I excitedly and enthusiastically introduced myself, eager to meet the foxes, before explaining my conundrum. I was midway through telling Midge that I wouldn’t be able to take any photos because my camera had broken, and the first thing he did was invite me inside for a coffee and to make a plan.

Armed with caffeine and ready to take on the world, that’s exactly what I did. Being a Nikon Pro I made a call to their offices first, talking them through what had happened, and they offered to send me a camera. The excitement was short lived however, when I found out that the camera they planned to send me was in Sweden as there was no residual stock in Iceland suitable for me, and that camera in Sweden would take a couple of days to arrive on a flight from Stockholm to Keflavik, then a truck to Reykjavik, then another flight from Reykjavik to ísafjörður. I didn’t have a couple of days – in a couple of days I was leaving Iceland and heading home. I had to turn down Nikon’s offer and make another plan. That’s when Midge said to me, “don’t worry, in Iceland we say ‘Thetta Reddast.'”

I had no clue what he was talking about but the world was closing in on me so I carried on trying to make a plan, calling the local tourism office to see if they knew of a photographer nearby who would be able to help out. There was only one (remember I said there’s basically nobody living there) and she was busy. I was stumped. Midge said, whilst making me a second coffee, “I have a camera, it’s probably not as good as yours but why don’t you borrow it until you go home.” I couldn’t believe it. I graciously accepted and, for the rest of my adventure, shooting the foxes and a helicopter flight among other things, I had a camera again. Midge simply asked that when I get back to Reykjavik I send it back to him on a flight to ísafjörður, which ended up costing me around £40 to send the box containing his camera on the next flight. Without that, I wouldn’t have been able to shoot the aerial views of Iceland offered by Nordurflug.

Thetta Reddast. It means, ‘everything is going to work out fine.’ It’s a beautiful Icelandic saying and it turned out everything did work out fine. Through the generosity of a stranger come friend I was able to continue, despite my own stupidity. Thing happen to us – hurdles pop up and road blocks appear – and we get through them, past them, over them, around them, and we work out the best of bad situations. Creatively I’ve been in a place lately that hasn’t been productive, but I’m pushing past it…

It’ll be fine

Much love
Dave

We’re all inspired by something – something makes us click. #TravelTuesday this week is all about figuring that out. I’m Dave Williams, and I’m here each and every Tuesday – no global pandemic will stop me!

So, what is it that inspires us? I’m going to start by flipping this whole scenario on its head. What takes me back to a location is often the music I was listening to at the time. When I listen to The Northern Kings, my mind takes me to Svalbard. Christmas music puts me in Canada, The 1975 is Norway, and Panic! At The Disco is largely places in Iceland. I don’t know what exactly it is that does this, but there’s a part of me that says it must be more than simply having been listening to the music whilst in the place because it’s not all music and it’s not all places. I still can’t figure this one out, so if you have any leads, let me know! I was thinking along the lines of a reverse of the inspiration from the final image back to the source, but enough, let’s get on.

Something is nurturing our creativity. Something is the cause of our ability to create beautiful images. These things we see, like the way the light falls on a mountain or the look in somebody’s eyes, are things that everyone around us also sees. The difference between us and them is that we have the desire and the skill to make something of it. Something inside of us is the difference between the shot and no shot. It could be the time of day or the time of year, and it could be what’s in the scene or what’s missing from it. It could be the lens we’re carrying or the time we’re willing to give the subject. Whatever it is, something inside of us makes us want to take that view, that scene, and compose it in such a way that it makes people want to be there or to look at the results of our creativity. 

Whatever it is, it grants us the unique ability to share the world as we see it, through our lens and through our eyes. Something inside of us is either pre-programmed to create or has learned to create. Finding what that thing is for you is a key part of being able to continue creating art both now during this pandemic, and going forward.

Goðafoss, Iceland, if you were wondering

For me, it’s all about travel. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: – I want to make people want to be in my photos. The whole idea for me in my field, travel photography, is to make people want to be there. This is what sells my images to be in magazines and brochures, and on websites and news stories. If I take a shot that holds somebody’s attention for just a fraction longer than the next person’s photo, I’m winning. The field, travel photography, is inherently vague. Whatever your field of photography, take however long it takes to work out what it is you want to achieve and how you can achieve it, and apply the resulting answer to your images going forward. Give them meaning and give them reason.

What about finding that style? What can we do to work out what it is about our photos that makes us click and keeps us in the game? This can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. Is there something about your style that stands above others? Do you have vibrant colours that pop off the page, or do you have a stark contrast of black and white? Is the focus narrow or are your images tack sharp from back to front? Maybe it’s something else altogether – maybe your subject matter reveals you as a photographer, for example, is it all about the architecture? Or the flowers? Or the people? There’s a good place to start with working out what it is about your photography that defines who you are, and it’s to try lots of different things. What happens with this process is that we work through the “maybe” list and tick off all the “no” until we’re left with the “yes.” Top tip: the same process can be used to determine your favourite or “keeper” images from a shoot – instead of looking at, say, 20 similar images and trying to decide your favourite, turn the process on its head and take out the shots you like the least until that leaves you with one, final, favourite image. I’ve completed this process myself in trying to determine which field or genre of photography I wanted to pursue, giving lots of things a go to decide what I didn’t like until I ended up with the one thing that I really, really do like.

Portland, ME, USA

This process of determining what it is that we like about photography and what it is that defines our style is the thing that pushes us to focus and work harder on the things we really love. When we photographers are motivated in our shooting, as a result of shooting what we love in the way that we love to shoot, it’s evident in the results. Photos are lasting – they’re the timeless, living memory of a moment in time, captured beautifully in a way that really shows justice to the subject. We strive constantly to be the best at what we do – always thinking about the newest gear and revolutionary techniques – but here’s the sneaky truth behind the reality: –

When somebody sees a photo and smiles because they love the content and the composition and the subject and the light and emotion and the colour and seemingly endless list of factors drawing them to feel with their eyes, they’re not wondering what camera was used, they’re simply in the moment and enjoying the photo. This is the result of practice and passion combined, and a brand new camera or expensive lens will not create this result – you will.

Figure out what makes you click.

Much love

Dave

But there’s more to it than just that!

So, it’s #TravelTuesday, and round these parts that means one thing. I’m back! I’m Dave Williams, and today I’m writing for you from France where I’ve just visited Mont St Michel. Look, proof: –

 

 

So, the rationale behind this post is that I tried to shoot this place a few weeks ago and failed. I hate to fail! What happened was that I wanted to go shoot sunrise at the only part of France that wasn’t occupied by the Germans during WWII (there you go, random factoid) but it was so cold riding through the night that I had to keep stopping to warm up and I didn’t make it. It sucked, and this place is somewhere I visited years ago when I didn’t really know what I was doing, and at in circumstances whereby I was only able to visit during the harsh light of day. Basically, I was staying in St Malo and go the bus, which wasn’t going to get me there before sunrise or bring me back after sunset. Importantly, at the time, I had ticked it off my enormous wish list of places to visit, but it became important for me to shoot it properly in the right light, hence the reason for the 9 hour ride having woken up at home and risen from my warm, toasty bed at 04:30 to get here for sunset today (Monday). Here’s one of the shots I got: –

 

 

What happened here is perseverance. Perseverance isn ‘t going to make you succeed, but without it you’re far less likely! It’s something that can be taken across into other walks of life, as well as applying to photography. For me in this example, it’s just photography.

When we set out to achieve anything, we must persevere. We will face setbacks and we will find things that will suck the motivation out of us. It’s just a fact of life. Perhaps we might get stuck on a path that isn’t really taking us anywhere and need to get off it in order to step things up a gear. Whatever it may be, if we persevere in our aspirations we will reach that higher goal, and in doing so those setbacks and motivation sappers will become easier to deal with and as such our goals will become bigger, breeding a new cycle of goals bigger than the last which we will persevere even harder to achieve. Thing is, you kind of need both because without a goal you won’t persevere, and without perseverance you won’t reach your goal.

Having the right mindset and having clear, conscious thought is key. It’s often described as ‘thinking right’ and it’s absolutely true that having the correct way of thinking, perhaps the positive mental attitude, will help realise those goals and make the challenges faced along the way much easier to deal with. I like quotes, which you will know if you follow my Instagram, and whenever I see a good one I screenshot it. There’s one which sits just right here that I saw a few days ago, and it’s this: –

Currently not letting anyone f&$k with my flow

Am I right? Or am I right? Getting perspective, having achievable goals, and having that mindset, all go together to give the strength required for perseverance, and perseverance is what will help you to realise your dreams and achieve your goals. I persevere a lot in getting the shots I want for my portfolio, and I’m talking about my professional and personal portfolios. Having the right mindset will help you to do the right things, and surrounding yourself with positivity will bring out the positive within you. Please, persevere to achieve your goals, but remember all the other ingredients that work alongside it to make it happen.

Much love

Dave

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