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Tips and techniques


By October 15, 2016No Comments


cbolt_portrait_jan2014Autumn always arrives on my doorstep like an old friend, her bags packed with rest and perhaps a little remorse for all of the moments that I had hoped to photograph over the past season, but never did.

Unlike landscape photographers, who eagerly await the seasonal changes from summer’s greens into fall’s brilliant blaze, insect photographers like me know that before long it will soon be time to close up shop for another season. The fading embers of goldenrods soon lead to the drawn-out trills of fall field crickets. Their quiet calls, like prayers of gratitude before a well-earned sleep, fill me with a sense of nostalgia for months of abundance that have flown past.

There were times—certainly when I first began my career as a nature photographer—when this pivot point filled me with desperation for not making all of the photos that I had hoped to achieve. Rather than feeling gratitude for all of the moments that I had been fortunate enough to experience, I thought of all of those opportunities that had slipped by. I imagined all sorts of fantastic scenarios in which I could have made images that would have won awards or could have been published in magazines, if only I’d been present more often with camera in hand.

Thankfully, I no longer feel this way.

Some time ago, it occurred to me that this life that I am able to experience as a documentarian of the natural world is a privilege. It is an amazing life with unfathomable depths. It never ceases to twist and turn into more wonderful questions and answers; no matter how deep I plunge, as if one season, or a million more, could ever satiate my thirst for wanting to learn more about life’s beautiful depths.

Each image that I make of a bee in flight or a spider busily spinning its web is an opportunity to crystalize the ephemeral, if only just for a little while. It is a chance to celebrate the presence of little lives that inhabit our world for such a brief flicker of time for just a little while longer. If my only purpose as a photographer is to capture, capture, capture, then what is the advantage of striving to increase my awareness of the world around me?

So today I say “Thank you” to autumn. Thank you for giving me a moment to pause and appreciate all of the wonder that I’ve seen over the past year. I know that I will never know or photograph everything, but I’ve learned to be grateful for gifts gathered during another spin around the sun.

Perhaps poet Mary Oliver captures this sentiment best in her poem, “One or Two Things” when she writes:

For years and years I struggled

just to love my life. And then

the butterfly

rose, weightless, in the wind.

“Don’t love your life

too much,” it said,

and vanished

into the world.


Enjoy this time of reflection!

Best Wishes,

Clay Bolt