Balancing Safety and Risk

Photographers in general seem to take a lot of risks. How can we balance safety and risk while still getting the shot? I often refer to war photographers as some of the craziest people out there. Putting themselves in dangerous situations and areas to get an image for a magazine. That's a job my wife and family would not allow me to have. Granted this is how some photographers make their living and are sometimes accompanied by other professionals to help keep them safe. This is not really true for other photographers. While nature photographers aren't as risky as the aforementioned war photographer, we do face some risks. There have been many occasions where one wrong move would put me in a hospitable or even worse. Luckily I have been fortunate enough to stay out of danger. I have witnessed fellow photographers fall with minor cuts and bruises to some having to be rescued by the park service. There was a story in the local news of a young adventure climbing up some ice formation and falling 20' and breaking a hip. In any event it's wise to know your limits and the risks. It will always be different for different people mostly based on abilities and physical conditioning.

I know for me when the light gets good and the magic hour arrives, It's almost like I space out. It's similar to when I was playing high school sports. When the game got intense, my focus was at the max. I didn't notice the crowd and sometimes even the other players. I was solely focused with the task at hand. When this happens while photographing, I have to remind myself to calm down and take my time, even if time is against me. Besides being mindful we also have to be properly equipped. if we have a loaded down pack, maybe trekking poles would be wise to help prevent knee and ankle issues. If you're on ice, extra traction may be needed. You get the idea.

Always be prepared for the conditions and always know your physical limits. A little common sense is also wise.


Ice, snow, cold, and a frozen lake michigan are just some of the potential dangers in this landscape.