A Lesson in Listening to your Gut
I, like many others, have a tendency to be swayed by the opinion and advice of others. This isn’t altogether a bad thing; being ignorant to the well meaning advice of your peers and the ones you love is a sure way to limit your personal development. That said, if you want to develop as an individual, particularly in an artistic environment, you have to know when to go with your gut.
Naturally, we all have a little of both traits ‘in’ us, but all too often I find myself easily swayed by the perspective and suggestion of others - even if it is only momentarily, you shouldn't overlook that this is sometimes enough to alter your long term trajectory. This is one occasion when, I'm pleased to say, I didn’t... And it paid off! The end result being: my first double page spread in a national magazine.
I had arrived at the coast to shoot a surf contest. I had an idea where I was going to shoot from before I had even arrived, based on the gear I had and some knowledge gathered from my dad’s fishing days at the spot.
As I began my walk along the cliff to where I planned to shoot from, I passed another photographer who told me there was no point in heading the direction I was going, as there wasn't much to see. Although my confidence wobbled and I considered turning back, on his advice, I carried on to the spot I had planned. Not long after settling into my position, I struck gold:
Jesse Davies took off on a bomb and tucked in for wave (in my opinion) and wipeout (actually awarded) of the day. More to the point, I was ready with my finger on the trigger to capture the moment. I wasn’t the only one, mind; I’ve seen a number of other photos documenting this wave from various angles, but the above shot is the one I’ve seen most widely published - all because I followed my gut; ignored the advice of a peer and stood true to my vision.
All this said, let’s pretend, hypothetically, that I listened when it was suggested that I turn back... Worst case scenario: I didn’t get the shot, the double page spread or the handsome cheque in the post (I'm joking - no money was exchanged in the publication of this photograph) and to rub salt into the wound, lets pretend someone else did - from the alternative spot suggested to me. If you ever end up in this position, don't dwell on it. It's natural to not enjoy the feeling of being 'wrong', but the whole reason for this is so you learn. It's not an uncomfortable feeling that should be avoided, but one that should be sought out. At the end of the day: if you are right, you are right and if you are wrong, you have learned. So go out there and learn stuff 👊.
The line between trusting your gut and being ignorant vs following advice and being a pushover is undeniably fine, and one that should be walked with care - but definitely one which should be walked, and not simply avoided. I'd suggest that a good rule of thumb is: whichever trait you have a natural inclination towards, you could probably develop as a person by acting contrary to your natural instincts every now and again, safe in the knowledge, that if you are wrong, you learned - as long as you do make the effort to learn from your experiences.
A few more shots from the event, below (full set on flickr).