“If you want to become a professional photographer, act like one.”
This was the thought going through my mind while I pushed my bike up a very steep hill, with a slippery gravel surface, sweating despite the cold, as the rain turned into hail.
You see, I’m typically pretty lazy. And that may not be the word you associate with a round-the-world cycling trip, but it’s true. Especially as a photographer. I almost never wake up for sunrises, even though that's the best possible time to be shooting. When touring the majority of my photos are taken from near the road or around my campsites. I don’t do very much exploring or climbing up hills for the great views. And if I find a good spot, I often take a photo too quickly, without waiting for better clouds or conditions, or searching for the right angle.
Photography-wise, that is lazy. That’s decidedly not how you get great photos and time-lapses. And my goal is to make a living out of this, so I need to do those things more frequently.
And it’s not even unpleasant to do. There's just that first initial discomfort of getting out of the sleeping bag when I’d prefer to keep dozing. Once I’m up I’ve literally never regretted waking up early. Climbing up hills and mountains can be tough but ends up feeling rewarding every single time. The view and the experience is well worth a little effort. So all I need to do is set a goal to have more of these experiences. That will automatically lead to better photos and videos.
That’s why, when I saw a gravel path going up a hill to a cell phone tower, I steered off the easy and comfortable asfalt and pushed and dragged my bike up the road. At the top, the pure satisfaction at the amazing views made me instantly forget any preceding hardship. The rain passed and the clouds scattered. I set my camera to shoot some time-lapse and fired up my gas stove to cook a well-earned meal in the meanwhile.
These moments, whether during a cycling trip or an aurora borealis hunt, are special. When the camera is doing its thing and there’s not much to do but wait, I sometimes feel a deep sense of peace and contentment. Like I’m exactly where I belong, doing what I should be doing. It’s not entirely clear to me why. Nevertheless I'm thrilled to have discovered something in the world that makes me feel this way.
And I can’t wait to see where it leads me.