You aren’t going to find it on any “Top 10 Christmas gifts for a photographer” list, but it’s an item I rarely ever go on a trip without.
This accessory has saved, improved, and inspired more photos than I dare say. It has woken me up on time. It has slowed me down to recompose and improve a shot. It has provided a sense of scale to an otherwise overwhelming scene. It has prevented me from spending an hour trying to make a busted sunrise/sunset into a vivid image. It has provided a sense of visual pop to an otherwise monochromatic scene. It has done more than I can remember, and far too much to list out.
By now you either know the answer or you are truly wondering what the accessory could be.
A small hint. It’s in this photo:
You see that pop of purple, in an otherwise green scene? The person sitting on top of what was a rock, but is now a boulder whose size can now put most houses to shame?
That’s my favorite photo accessory. It has saved, improved, or inspired more photos than I dare say.
The accessory is my favorite traveling companion. My wife.
Sounds corny doesn’t it? Too many, it probably does. But this is written in earnest.
Her attitude towards our trips is “lets see something beautiful.” That attitude has not only led us to many visually amazing places, but it has also kept us there past the point where most other individuals would have lost interest. She’s afraid to take a picture with my camera (from fear of not knowing it, or somehow screwing it up), but she understands what goes into making a great picture and is accommodating.
Three specific examples from this photo alone. First, we went here because she chose between two waterfalls in a book (Photographing Oregon by Greg Vaughan) and picked the one she liked the most. Secondly, she did this hike with me twice in one day. Two miles round trip each time. Why? Near this location on the first hike, we agreed the light was trash, and she suggested we come back later when it was better. That was something I wasn’t going to suggest seeing as how I had already drug her 7+ miles that day and it was barely past noon. Thirdly, after snapping some similar images that contained another individual (that story and picture later) the individual had to leave. At my mention that the sense of scale was gone, she suggested to continue on down the trail and climb atop the boulder.
Those three things are powerful and that attitude is directly responsible for improving this and many of my images. It may sound small, but on a vacation where photography isn’t the main objective, having a traveling companion whose attitude is “lets see something beautiful” becomes even more impactful.