Something for Your Camera Bag: A Photographer's Prayer

YUCCA AND CLOUDS, WHITE SANDS NATIONAL MONUMENT, ALAMOGORDO, NEW MEXICO 2011I came across this prayer a long time ago in D-MAX Newsletter, a publication for film photographers who wanted to better understand the way traditional black & White photographic materials behaved when exposed to light and were developed. The newsletter grew out of a system for black and white materials testing called Beyond the Zone System created by my photography professor at the University of Michigan, Phil Davis.

I have kept a copy of these words on a slip of paper inside my camera bag for years and pull it out occasionally to remind myself that it will be through hard work and growing beyond boundaries that I will become the photographer I hope is somewhere inside me:

"As I stand in the falling morning mist, I fear that I once again, have failed to capture that which is the true meaning of the vision nature has presented me. I stand and wonder if this, my quest for an artistic balance in a life of labor and stress, is truly a calling I can legitimately claim. For it is not a lack of tools that I suffer, but a lack of time and experience with those tools. Preparation, poor at best, has led me to this moment and left me not with a trophy of perception but instead, another cliched remnant of reality, veiled in mediocrity. I now realize that for the photographer, it is the balance of inner self and technical ability that yields the final prize. While rare and often curious in nature, we insist on dismissing our failures not blaming our own ignorance but instead the fortitude of our equipment. Perhaps as I grow to understand the nature of my actions, I will become more sensitive to this failure and help others, as well as myself, grow beyond these boundaries and become the photographer that I know I am."

From the DMAX Newsletter. Back issues are available from the View Camera Store. Beyond the Zone System was also published as a book by Focal Press and is available at your favorite bookseller and