Improve Your Photography – Situational Awareness

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Completely Unaware Photographer

Right before Ra’s al Ghul smacks the ice and drops Bruce Wayne into the frigid waters he says “Mind your surroundings.”  Thas quote from Batman Begins has always stuck with me because I’m batman it’s one of those things that seems like common sense but yet is far less common than it ought to be.  Situational awareness (SA) can be the difference between a great day of photography or finding yourself in a dangerous predicament.

Situational Awareness

Situation awareness is the perception of environmental elements with respect to time and/or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status after some variable has changed, such as time, or some other variable, such as a predetermined event.

Wikipedia

Learn it, live it, love it.  Situational awareness goes hand in hand with self-awareness, it’s a matter of survival.  Being aware of you and your surroundings will keep you, your loved ones, and the people around you safe.  SA also makes you a better photographer and helps you to avoid upsetting other photographers or subjects.  Think about the last time you were trying to photograph a beautiful landmark and another photographer stepped in front of you to take the same shot…  Either they were not aware of their surroundings or just rude (I try to give most the benefit of the doubt).

Being aware of your situation/surroundings will improve your photography.  Talk to any street photographer or wild life photographer and they will tell you that being aware of their situation/surroundings is the difference between a good shot and a great shot.  Did you notice the person with the red umbrella in a sea of black umbrellas?  Or the eagle circling above the lake about to snatch a fish out of the water?  How about the man who has been following you as you walk down the crowded street unaware your camera and purse are about to be stolen?

Be kind and be SA, being SA will help you avoid being “that guy (or girl).”  You know, the person that walks down the middle of the sidewalk with their camera attached to their face and bumps into people, walks in front of them, and just generally irritates everyone around them.  It’s exciting being in new places and wanting to photograph everything you can fit into your viewfinder but stay aware and be courteous.

Situational awareness means you’ll think before you act, if you visit the same place often think about parking in different locations and taking different routes to throw off a would be thief.  Being SA means you will avoid walking through grass that is clearly marked “stay off the grass.”  It means that you’ll wait till someone is finished photographing what you want to photograph before you step into their line of sight.  It will improve all facets of your life, I promise.


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