Today I spent some time thinking back to my trip to Thailand in February, 2005. It was just a couple of short months after the giant tsunami hit the southern parts of the country on December 26, 2004, causing massive devastation and a heartbreaking loss of life.
I was inspired by how Thais in Phuket reaction to the event. Despite the daunting destruction and chaos, they rolled up their sleeves and got to work repairing the damage. Rubble was swept into neat piles and cleared away, flowers were replanted, and construction got underway to rebuild demolished structures. Tourists, whose money is the lifeblood of the region, stayed away from Phuket in droves, and the normally bustling resorts were nearly deserted. So much had been swept into the sea. Almost everyone there had lost friends and relatives to that giant wave. Instead of lapsing into despair, Thai workers did what needed to be done, and then took to the beaches and played joyful games of soccer. The joy and energy was infectious, and that evening as I stood in the soft sand and panned my lens across that scene, I captured one of my most personally meaningful photos.
I’ll always remember the Thai way of adapting, flowing and rolling with the punches. If you can take this to heart, you’ll always land on your feet with a smile, no matter what the universe throws at you. This approach can be very useful to photographers. We’re often at the mercy of weather, equipment failures, financial limits, wardrobe, client demands, and other uncontrollable factors. Often, our intricate pre-made plans get demolished in an instant. Having learned to stay in the present and to observe its many opportunities has made a big difference to me. Although I always hope for ideal conditions for every shoot, I feel confident that I can adapt to create compelling photos in nearly any situation. Try it some time. Whenever you catch yourself bemoaning what you perceive to be a negative turn of events, re-examine the situation to see if it contains any hidden advantages.