British landscape photographer and YouTuber Thomas Heaton recently produced an interesting video about looking after your camera gear.

What is cool about the video is that while Thomas stresses excellent care procedures and suitable cleaning techniques (who can forget “always blow before you go”), he puts just as much emphasis on not getting too precious about your gear.

As landscape photographers we should be out in the elements and we should be exposing ourselves and our kit to horrific conditions like wind, rain, sand, ash, dust, dirt… Because that’s how we make the images. If you’re only going out in perfect conditions you’re never going to have the chance to capture those truly compeling images.

I have to agree with Thomas’ thinking — there is an inverse relationship between great images and great conditions.[1] Being out in inclement weather and in rainy, windy, sandy or dusty environments provides opportunities for great images[2].

I see my landscape and underwater photography as being participative photography[3]. As a photographer I am not passively observing the environment that I am capturing — I am part of it. The story is my story, not someone else’s.

I don’t see my story as being that guy who only goes out when it is perfect. I go out and enjoy the experiences life has to offer, and often my camera goes with me. Yes, I have to clean and look after my gear, sometimes it needs to be repaired, and occassionally I have lost or damaged equipment. But it is worth it.

As Thomas said:

Get out there in the elements and take photographs, because that ultimately is what it’s all about.
Feeding Time by Des Paroz on 500px.com

  1. At least above water. For underwater images good conditions make your life much better–not just for the actual image, but also for the shooting ;-). That said, some of my best images were made in poor viz.
  2. Importantly there is a threshold somewhere where this inverse relationship stops, and you’d better take shelter. Your personal safety must never be comprimised for the sake of an image. Don’t be out in the midst of a cyclone or in close proximity to lightning storms just to get a shot.
  3. I think I borrowed, or at least adapted, that term from the late Galen Rowell.
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