Five life lessons photography can teach you

And how you can put them into practice

Chris McQueen
Aug 13 · 7 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Image by Author

I‘ve been a huge fan of taking photos from the day I got my first camera. It was my 15 th birthday and a very basic Canon 500d. I got the kit lens on and headed for the flowers in the garden. After spending a few hours in „auto“ mode I shot my first decent photo. It was a great experience.

This article will briefly talk about the lessons I‘ve learnt from pursuing my hobby and what I put into practice in my daily life

Image of palm trees in Capernaum
Image of palm trees in Capernaum
Image by Author

Okay, now what does this mean? To take great photos you just have to get out there. No matter what weather or location. There is a potential, that it might be the best shot you‘ve ever taken.

I recall a trip to Israel in 2017, when we headed up to the sea of Galilee in Mid June. It was boiling. 44 degrees Celsius in the shade. Luckily our car had decent air-conditioning. Anyhow, we stopped in Capernaum and my dad and I jumped out of the car to take a quick picture. I thought: „Come on you‘ll never get a decent shot here!“, but took the camera anyway. The location had exceptional symmetry and a unique view on the sea of Galilee. Now it‘s up on my wall and still a favourite.

So whats the life lesson? Make a change. And make it now. If you wait for the right amount of money, the right education or the perfect mentor, you might end up waiting a long time. Instead, think of what you can do today, to whom you can give today and how you can learn something new today.

At the start of lock-down I bought a Udemy-course for 9,99€. It was a full stack web development course. I don‘t regret buying it. Every morning I do 30 mins of the course and it‘s often the best 30 mins of the day. I was keen to have my own website, but never been taught the right way. Now my goal is to pursue this dream and make it a part of my professional life. I just did it, and have not looked back!

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by redcharlie on Unsplash

The first time you try out manual focus (MF) on your camera you‘re confused. Why would anyone even bother trying to manually focus when auto focus (AF) does such a good job?

Manual focus lets you decide what you want the viewer to fix his or her eyes on. It can be the orange in the foreground of a still shot, or the wooden table way behind it. In the end you have the power to decide.

Trust me, it makes a difference. Changing it up and playing with those settings can get you the amazing shot you‘ve always wanted and make others say: „Wow, I‘ve never noticed that before!“

In life you also have the chance to decide what you want to focus on. Is it wealth? Is it a family? Is it the future? All those questions are for you to decide. And that‘s the beauty of it all.

For me this has a deeper meaning. As the book of Hebrews states it better than I could put it here are the inspired words of God:

Let us run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.

My focus is on Jesus. He has overcome the world and perfected my faith. I will give my best to keep him and our heavenly father at the center of my life.

Flowing water
Flowing water
Image by Author

Ever heard of flow? When doing focused work, you sometimes enter a state of flow. This state is described as when a

person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity

In the same way I enter the „zone“, as it‘s sometimes called colloquially, when I take photos. As soon as I arrive at the destination I know what to look for and what to do. Where‘s the light coming from? Will I need a tripod? Can I use my current lens? How will I focus on the subject? Can I use the rule of thirds for this setup?…

The focus is present. I am fully involved and then the enjoyment process kicks in. I start taking a few „must have“ shots before switching to the more creative shots.

Do you occasionally enter the state of „flow“ in your life? When are you fully focused and energised? When do you feel fully involved in a task? Is it maybe a fun project at work, that you really believe in? Is it a new piece of music you‘re learning on the piano, that you‘ve practiced again and again and finally is making progress? Or is it working for your spouse or family in and around the house that gives you enjoyment? Try and find that source.

Go and look for fulfilment. For me it‘s studying Gods word. It might seem boring from your viewpoint. I love it. When I get into a character study, or find another link to a New Testament parable I enter the „zone“. The more you dig, the more you find. There are parables, comparisons, chiasms, analogies, prophecies, historical accounts, songs, poems and even love stories hidden in this one book. This kind of flow is the most rewarding for me. Maybe it can also be yours?

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Ever taken a photo with the lens cap on? Ever shot in jpg only to realise you really needed a RAW photo for that kind of shot?

I bet you, every photographer has made those mistakes. And it‘s fine. Because failures and mistakes are necessary. Every time you make a mistake you learn. And you learn a lot. This can result in a paradigm shift. Instead of focusing not to fail you can rather appreciate the lesson you have been able to learn.

When have you failed in life? I‘m confident in saying every day. We stuff up regularly and that‘s human. But the key to success and fulfilment in life is picking yourself up and trying. Again and again.

My dad used to say:

Good people practice until they get it right. Great people practice until they don‘t get it wrong

With this mindset you can climb mountains. On a personal level I think there‘s only one person who‘s never made a mistake. Jesus. Because he didn‘t sin we can address our father in heaven through him. And how can we find comfort in that? Here‘s the answer:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin

Thus we can find empathy with the man who went through the worst nightmare any of us could imagine and yet was without sin. Amazing? Yes. So will this change you?

Image for post
Image for post
Image by Author

Every start is tough. Sometimes we think of giving up, after just a few day of doing something new. But with others it often seems easier and more manageable.

Every photography course you sign up will have an online community. The creators and authors of the course will encourage you to use this opportunity to share your work and connect with others. This interaction can not only create new friendships, but also is an opportunity to find potential clients for your prints.

What does this teach us about life? We need to find a community of likeminded people we can talk to and interact with. How can you make this possible? You need at least one thing in common. As mentioned above photography might be an option. Maybe you‘re a keen tennis player – sorted. As soon as you have a similar or even the same interest you will have a starting point for any conversation.

Additionally to my photography community I have a worldwide group of believers, who have a lot in common with me. We all share the same hope and strive to run and complete the same goal. Despite the current situation making it very hard to meet with others, there have been ways of interacting digitally. And this is such a blessing!

Mountains view
Mountains view
Image by Author

So if you‘ve made it so far- thank you. It‘s been fun to join you on this journey reflecting on life lessons, view through the lens of a photographer. A simple camera can teach us many things. We have touched on five lessons, can you remember them?

  • You have to just do it
  • You can change the focus
  • You can get into the zone
  • Your failures result in great lessons
  • You need a community

So stay alert and keep snapping. The next time you take out your camera or phone to freeze a moment in time, take some time to consider the bigger picture.

The Innovation

A place for variety of stories from different backgrounds

By The Innovation

Official newsletter of The Innovation Take a look

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

Chris McQueen

Written by

Writer on Productivity and Life-Hack topics. Studying Business Informatics in Stuttgart Germany. Believer in the word of God.

The Innovation

A place for a variety of stories from different backgrounds

Chris McQueen

Written by

Writer on Productivity and Life-Hack topics. Studying Business Informatics in Stuttgart Germany. Believer in the word of God.

The Innovation

A place for a variety of stories from different backgrounds

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store