Risk Taking in Photography

It is good for photographers to take a risk. Not the type where you dangle from a cliff or put yourself in unsafe conditions, I mean taking a creative risk with our photography.

“Another Day Not Wasted” is a book by Photographer Guy Tal. In it are essays combined with his photography about creativity. To me the title alone is an inspiration and it comes to mind every time I set up my camera. It encourages me to take risks.

Here’s the risk that I took recently. Morning mist is kind of the holy grail in Pine Barrens landscape photography with spring mist being a rarity. When conditions were perfect for morning mist in early April, the thing to do would be to head to a beautiful open river or bog landscape where the mist creates beautiful, mystical (pun intended) and magical scenes like the photographs below.

Mist And Fog by Richard Lewis 2020


Misty Dawn by Richard Lewis 2023


Pastel Mist by Richard Lewis 2023


The Ghost Forest

Instead of photographing these landscapes, I took a risk and went to a a Pine Barrens swamp known as the Devil’s Hairbrush. This swamp has a large stand of dead Atlantic White Cedar trees which in someone’s imagination must have looked like a large hairbrush only a devil would use. Maybe we locals should take a little comfort in the fact that the Jersey Devil cares about his appearance.

These swamps with dead stands of cedar trees are known as Ghost Forests. The wood in an Atlantic White Cedar tree is hard and rot resistant. When these trees die, usually due to changing water levels, both natural and manmade, the dead trees will remain standing for a long time. They will turn almost white over time which gives them a ghostly appearance. While large ghosts forests indicate drastic environmental changes, either local or global, smaller groups of ghost trees are a regular part of the Pine Barrens landscape.

The Endless Pine Forest by Richard Lewis 2021


Swamp Art

In swamps, the mist will rarely penetrate into the thick stands of trees. Another risk that I took that morning was passing by potentially lovely scenes, even stopping at one, before deciding to stick with the plan to photograph the Devil’s Hair Brush. The morning mist appearing in the swamp, and the sunlight filtering through the thick stand of ghost trees were the setting for the photographs below. Was the risk worth it? To me, yes, but I’ll let you decide if taking a risk led me to create Swamp Art or did I waste a perfectly good and rare misty spring morning?

Ghostly Swamp by Richard Lewis 2023


Mist Among The Ghosts by Richard Lewis 2023


Daybreak In The Ghost Forest 2 by Richard Lewis 2023


Daybreak In The Ghost Forest 1 by Richard Lewis 2023


The Devil’s Hairbrush by Richard Lewis 2023


Breaking Through by Richard Lewis 2023


Birds Of The Ghost Forest by Richard Lewis 2023


Risk taking in photography will either succeed or fail. Both lead to growth and understanding. Success will give you some special photographs that will help your creative voice evolve. Failure will help you realize what not to do or where not to go. That will influence your next photoshoot in a positive way. In other words, you cannot go wrong either way with creative risk taking. When we pick up our cameras, if we are willing to explore our creativity in order to grow as an artist and a person, then we have spent another day not wasted.