This set of shots really means a lot to me. Sure, the compositions are fine, the lighting is unique, the colours are intense, the equipment is great, and the landscape is beautiful, but that’s not why it means a lot to me. The reason it means a lot to me is because of what it represents. Each photo I share with the world is not only a representation of places on our planet, but of sacrifice. Every decent photo I have ever taken has required some sort of sacrifice of time, energy, food, water, relationships, and especially money.
My girlfriend, good friend Zach Rogers and I drove 12 hours straight from Provo, UT to Mono Lake. We arrived at sunset hoping to get some shots but it was completely overcast and there was no good lighting. We were tired from the drive anyway so we set up a tent near by where we wanted to shoot and went to sleep, expecting to catch a good sunrise. We woke up at 4:00AM, I carried my girlfriend to the car and sat her in the passenger seat, so she could try to keep sleeping. We packed up everything and drove closer to our spot. We got all our gear and walked out to the shoreline, waiting for the light. We waited, and waited, and waited… nothing happened. We kept checking what time sunrise was going to be, the sky was supposed to be exploding with colour and beams of light by now. The sun had to have risen already, but it was nowhere to be seen, tucked away behind thick, dark clouds.
It began to rain and we went back to the car and sat, feeling robbed. We decided to wait around until sunset to try our luck again. At 7:30PM we grabbed our gear again and walked back out to the shoreline. It was still raining a little bit but we were hoping that somehow the sun would poke out and shed some light upon the landscape. Again, no dice. Since it was dark we decided to stay overnight again. We stayed up until 2AM, hoping to get shots of the milky way, but the clouds wouldn't budge. The next morning we got up again at 4:00 AM. The lighting was looking good, I could tell it was going to be a lot better. I quickly woke Zach up and excitedly ran back down to the shore. I set up the perfect composition. Just when everything was going perfect, a giant van pulled up. At least 15 tourists with DSLR’s, huge lenses, tripods, and brightly coloured ponchos came pouring out of the van and began to infest the entire area. They were climbing on top of things, laying on the ground, running all over, tipping rocks over, and bumping into my tripod.
After 5 of them set up right in front of my shot, I quickly ran and looked for another spot, secluded and hidden from the tourist invasion. The sun was starting to come up and the sky was exploding. I found a shot and started taking photos, working on the composition. Then one of them saw me and ran over and set up right next to me, literally inches away from my camera. I left that spot and looked for another, then one of them set up right in front of me. Everywhere I went there were these crazy, wild photographers running all over. I couldn't get a photo without some kind of blurred, colourful body in the way. I managed to get a few shots without any tourists in them, but felt like they could have turned out much better if I hadn't been disturbed. I decided after having some good lighting, we could move on and continue our road trip through the California Coast.
From what I have just explained, being a photographer might sound like the worst gig in the world, and it can be, just like anything else, if you don’t love it. As long as you are doing what you love, the pay-off outweighs the sacrifice so much that it doesn't even matter. I only call them sacrifices because of the way outsiders perceive them. Any other passionate photographer will understand that they are just lesser comforts that you put aside to achieve greater things and create art that you are truly proud of. That to me is true satisfaction.
Eric Bennet is a thisworldexists adventure ambassador. See more of his adventures and work on Instagram: @bennettfilm