“P” Point Photography: Seven Success Sources
Bill Cottringer

“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” ~Dorothea Lange

Learning the art of good photography offers valuable life lessons that can bring success in other endeavors. Here are seven wisdom lessons I have learned with my photography passion that can be useful in doing just about anything and especially so in meeting life’s most difficult challenges:


Successful photography, just like anything else involves priorities—setting and keeping the right ones at the right time and place. If you want to be a successful photographer as a profession that is an overriding priority in your whole life. On the other hand, if you just want to have fun with photography as a hobby, then it may become a lower priority in your life. And, doing everyday photography involves prioritizing you choice of subjects, whether people, wildlife, sports, architecture or scenery, and arranging priorities of opportunities to be where you need to be to capture the subject at the right time and place. You also have to set spending and saving priorities, so that you get the best equipment for your hard-earned wages and afford sometimes expensive photographic journeys.


Good photography is wrapped in patience, from waiting until you can afford the right camera body, lenses, peripherals and editing software to waiting to be able to afford the expensive trips to exotic places where the best photography opportunities are more abundant. Or, you can find yourself waiting for the wind to stop, water to still or light to change and even a new season to come. Unfortunately, patience isn't learned from the many failures impatience produces, but rather the few successes that come from being more patient than you inclined to want to be. Patience is always a priority to strive towards and then you have to have more patience in waiting for the reward for having it!


You can’t be successful at anything without knowing and focusing on your primary purpose of what you are trying to do. In trying to produce a quality photography product, or any creative endeavor for that matter, there are four basic purposes involved with the attempt: (a) to capture something unique and different from all the rest that is out there (b) to invest sufficient time and effort to achieve something that is sufficiently difficult that it can be duly appreciated and not easily duplicated (c) to follow the technical basics in your art form with equipment, light, color, exposure, composition and clarity for photography, and (d) to communicate a valuable truth or solution to a problem that others need to know about, with maximum clarity and impact.


We all know that perceptions are a person’s reality, but we also know these realities are not always complete or correct. In photography the main perception to have in order to be successful, is one full of empathy and sensitivity. In fact, the more the better. This emotional intelligence is essential to be able to fully capture the essence of the consciousness of the subject you are photographing so that you can communicate what you are seeing, thinking and feeling as it really is without any unfair help from Photoshop. All it takes is a little imagination to see hidden things in clouds, trees, flowers, people, animals, buildings and scenery.


Literally, what you see (or think to be true) depends upon the time and place from which you are doing the looking, or your particular viewpoint. Although composition of a picture is critical, getting to the right perspective is what determines what the composition turns out to be. So, if you don’t like what you see, all you have to do to change that result, is to change your location in time (weather, lighting, season) and place (up, down, around, across or away). Unfortunately much of what we think to be true has come in through the wrong perspective, but fortunately photography offers endless opportunities to experiment with getting to the right perspective to see what enjoys being seen most.


The most difficult aspect of photography, just like the rest of life, is to figure out how to solve seemingly unsolvable paradoxes. In photography, an ornery problem is trying to catch a scene that is half-dark (tree line, water reflection) and half-light (washed out sky and snowy mountain), with proper balance and without being too dark or too light, but just right as the human eye accommodates it. One solution to this perplexing photography dilemma is to use a graduated neutral density filter and polarizer to balance things equally. Another way is to fill the frame with more darkness so that details aren't sacrificed by the slim lighter top part of the picture. Or, you can wait until the contrast isn't so drastic over time. The point is that you have to be open-minded, flexible in thinking and creative in approaches to resolving such problems that are prevalent in life.


The kind of perseverance that facilitates success is not persevering by endlessly doing the same thing over and over again through all adversity until you succeed, but rather continually making the effort to succeed by not giving up, enduring adversity and discomfort, and continually changing your approach until you do finally succeed. Great photography involves achieving an iconic photograph and such serendipity of opportunity is often just around the next corner you are most inclined to give up on getting to. But also, knowing the few un-winnable situations to quit and rearrange these other Photography “P” Points is just as important as persevering to the edge of numbness.

At least pick up an inexpensive point and shoot camera as a starting point for yourself or your children or grandchildren and see what fun you can have learning how to be a good photographer, during our common mission of learning, growing and improving into the level of success and happiness that is waiting us all.

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” ~Ansel Adams.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President of Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security Patrol, Inc. in Bellevue, WA., along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence), The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree), and Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers) Reality Repair Rx (PublishAmerica), and Reality Repair (Global Vision Press) Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 652-8067, 425-454-5011 or bcottringer@pssp.net or ckuretdoc@comcast.net