If you’ve ever been in excellent physical condition, you know that it improves every aspect of your life. You feel better, you think better, you look better and you SEE better. And the sex is great too.
But when you are out of shape, as I am right now, everything gets worse. This really hit home during the second of three dance concerts I shot last weekend. Even the modest physical demands of shooting the show exhausted me. Those physical demands included standing relatively still for three hours while leaning into a monopod-mounted camera, and then sitting for three to five hours while processing images. Three days in a row. Believe it or not, at my age, extended standing and sitting take a toll. I can walk all day without any ill effects, but after shooting these dance concerts, my right hip and shoulder hurt like hell.
Saturday night was particularly bad because my physical discomfort completely frustrated my shooting efforts. I felt distracted and out of sync. I was missing great moments and I KNEW I was missing them, which made me more frustrated, which made me more distracted, and so on.
How did I know I was missing the shots? A single-lens-reflex camera blacks out the viewfinder when the shutter opens. When shooting action with such a camera, a simple rule applies: if you can see the peak of the action, you missed the photo. That happened to me all evening. I was a fraction of a second behind the dancers as they leapt, twirled, and stretched. You need to predict the action and release the shutter an instant before the peak, but my reflexes were dulled by discomfort.
Sure, I got some good shots, and yes, I had two other chances to shoot the show, but the lesson here is one that grows in importance as I age: I’ve got to stay in shape to enjoy photography. And I need to respect the physical requirements of each shoot, with adequate stretching before and after, plenty of hydration, and frequent breaks during post-processing. I do not want to associate photography with the kind of pain I am feeling today.