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By Beka Compton
The Times 

Art lessons in life, from a budding photographer


November 18, 2021

Beka Compton

My dog, Mack, is often the subject of my practice photos, as I figure out new techniques, angles, and manual settings.

I've never considered myself an artist of any caliber, nor have I considered venturing into that world. I have been surrounded by accomplished artists since I started working at The Times and Ten Ton Coffee, and I have to admit- they have managed to pique my interest.

While drawing or painting is still not my thing, I have had some luck with a camera. I do not consider myself a photographer quite yet, as I still have lots to learn, but I have learned a few lessons that carry over into my everyday life.

My first lesson was patience. This spring, I kept getting tips about a young moose that was hanging out on the Coppei. One evening, around 3:30, I got a call that it was bedded down on a hillside, so I jumped in my car and headed out to wait. I waited for more than four hours for the moose to stand up, but by that time, dusk had set in. I grabbed a couple photos of the massive critter from afar, but it had gotten too dark to capture much more than a silhouette. At first, I was extremely frustrated, but I got home, reviewed the photos, and was more than pleased with my results. That photo is a great reminder that a little bit of patience goes a long way when I'm getting irritated in the grocery store, or while waiting for my kiddo to put her shoes on in the morning.

My second lesson has been movement. When Ruck for the Fallen passed through Waitsburg, I was asked to capture moments in the crowd. There were a lot of Waitsburgonians there to cheer on the Rucker. Since I was there to document the event, I had to constantly move to capture the moments I was after. A young soldier standing with Jack McCaw, who was proudly wearing his own Veteran cap. A moment of prayer, excited kids, happy parents. Whether I have a camera in my hand or not, the full impact of something seems to be best when you experience it from all angles, not just head on.

My third lesson has been awareness. I was asked to photograph a youth golf event earlier this year in Dayton. At one point, I kneeled, just off the green, to capture a young player teeing off. I was so absorbed in my camera that I was nearly hit by the ball, which took a mean hook at the very last second. I was completely unaware until other spectators mentioned it to me later. The photo was great, but that camera would be a rather expensive to replace, oops, if that ball had made contact. I have to be aware of what is going around me when I get settled into a sporting event or other action shots- just like I need to be aware of what is going on around me in life. If you've ever seen me nearly get pummeled on the sidelines at a home football game, it's clear that this lesson still hasn't sunk in. The pictures are usually worth the risk.

My final lesson, and quite frankly, my favorite, is that art is not confined to a studio, or a lense, or a group of people. It is everywhere, and within reach of anyone who wants to see it. I often find myself watching for photo opportunities while driving, waiting for a safe moment to pull over and capture the changing leaves of autumn, or a happy horse in a pasture. I've am learning the best time of day to capture evening engagement shots, which is ever changing with the season. I've come to appreciate the different moods each hour brings- more intimate moments are best shot with the early moment sunrise or the glorious golden hour just before dusk. Those have become my favorite times of the day, too. Sipping coffee in my hammock as the sun comes up, watching the deer and birds behind my house, has become a morning favorite. The world is full of moods, moments, and lots of beauty, you just have to look a little closer sometimes.


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