I often think about how I can balance my career, family life and my aspirations of becoming a landscape photographer. Over the years, photography has gradually become more than a hobby. Starting 20 years ago with a classic Canon AE-1 camera and 50mm lens, given to me by my brother-in-law. It has become the focus of the next chapter in my life. Photography is my passion. It is my medicine! I simply love the outdoors. I love to capture moments in time and share them with the rest of the world. Through my photography, I hope I can raise appreciation for the photographic arts in my community and our natural world. Through this article, I hope I can share my pursuit of a work-life balance as a landscape photographer.
As I have evolved as a landscape photographer, I have faced many challenges. The number one challenge would have to be a lack of time. As I work full-time, I often struggle to find time to get out and take pictures. This restricts my outdoor photographic escapades to family vacations or a few short trips on extended weekends. This also means that the conditions are often not ideal for photography. I simply have to make the best of the situation.
Combining Family, Travel & Landscape Photography
My most recent trip was planned for seven months in advance. I had always wanted to take a road trip to Northern California and Oregon. So when I booked my vacation I specifically picked mid-October for the autumn colors. My final destination would be Portland, Oregon, where I would photograph the famous Maple tree at the Japanese garden. On the way, I would visit Redwood State, National Park and then head north to Oregon. After visiting Portland, my plan was to head south-east to Bend, Oregon. Bend is known for its beautiful alpine and high desert terrain, the city of Sisters and it’s stunning lakes.
Redwood State National Park
The stay at Redwood State National Park was short but one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. We only stayed for two nights as we were eager to get to our next destination. I forgot my own rule and number one nature photography tip – Enjoy the journey, don’t just look forward to the destination. Given the lack of time, I didn’t have the chance to scout the area for spots to photograph. I simply took my shots as I explored the trails with my family.
I felt I was being rushed. My wife and daughter were very supportive but it can’t be helped when their patience runs out. My 7-year-old daughter would also want to take restroom breaks at the most critical times. Although one of my favorite shots was taken when heading with her to the bathroom. As I was heading back towards the car park, with my gear still on the tripod, I spotted the shot. You could also argue that, had the circumstances been different, I would have missed that shot. All-in-all, the stay at the Redwoods was amazing! It certainly planted a seed for future visits to the area.
Portland Japanese Garden
As we headed on to Oregon, the autumn colors were at their peak. But it was sunny with no rain forecast. This weather is horrible for landscape photos. No clouds? No rain? In Oregon? Wow. It was October when Oregon usually experiences very dramatic weather, 75 degrees, sunny and not a cloud in the sky. Great for the Oregonians. Not so great for me. But this didn’t spoil my visit to the Portland Japanese garden which was an amazing experience.
When I finally found the infamous majestic tree, I was amazed at how small it actually was. No kidding. But it was the main reason that I drove almost 1300 miles. So I spent a few hours on it, with different lenses and lighting until the wife finally lost patience. She took my daughter to the nearby zoo which mercifully gave me the time and space I required. I later realized that my best shot was one of the first ones I took. I also took a few with my large format camera.
Bend & Cypress Tree Tunnels
Since the weather was so sunny and cloud-free, I didn’t feel it was the right time to visit Bend. I wanted things to be perfect. So I decided that we would head back to California. I guessed that if I had gone then, I probably wouldn’t revisit anytime soon. This way, I’m forced to go back next year. I now have mixed feelings about canceling the Bend part of our trip. Other photographers may have thought differently. It’s my “all or nothing” mentality. This can be a bad combination when you have limited time to photograph around the year. The trip concluded with a few days stay in San Francisco. We visited Half Moon Bay, where I had a chance to photograph the famous Cypress Tree Tunnels at Moss Beach.
Reflecting back on this trip, I do wish conditions had been different. But the reality is that we do not control nature. As all photographers are well aware, you just have to deal with the limitations and challenges and be creative. Now I can say that the theme of the recent trip turned out to be trees. But more importantly, I spent 12 great days with my wife and daughter away from my hectic clinic schedule.
Family is Everything
My career has limited my time to take photographs. But it has also allowed me to take my photographic journeys with my family. As I look at my photo library, I can see my daughter mature through them. As I document my journey, I am also documenting our family life. To balance the three Ps – profession, parenting and passion, one needs to have patience, pragmatism and perseverance. In the future, I hope to relocate to somewhere I can more conveniently indulge my passion for photography. Until then, I will continue to capture Mother Nature’s beauty with my family. Whilst, of course, ever striving for that elusive work-life balance as a landscape photographer.
Gevork Mosesi is a physician based in San Diego, CA, juggling his busy career and family life to ensure a work-life balance as a landscape photographer. He has been an avid photographer for 20 years. He shoots with various formats including digital, 4×5 and 6×17 panoramic cameras.
gevork mosesi - gevorkmosesiphotography.com