Practicing Patience with a Herd of Bull Elk

Bull Elk Fighting

Patience is an extremely valuable quality to have, especially as a photographer. It can be extremely rewarding when used properly.

Generally as humans, we tend to want to go out of our way to appease others and make them feel comfortable. I personally believe that everybody has the inherent capability to find happiness themselves and not be dependent on other people fixing a situation to make them happy. Many photographers seem to have learned this, even if subconsciously, but unfortunately go about displaying it rather bluntly and rudely.

I found myself in that category, in hindsight, as I was waiting for this herd of bull elk on the National Elk Refuge to do more than just stand there (which clearly they did). I was parked off of Highway 89 where another street connected, and was pulled up far enough (into the snow, in fact) still for even two cars to fit through comfortably. One driver, however, was still bothered by my positioning and chose to stare me down despite having plenty of room to go about her drive. I did what most people would have done in that situation, and eventually won the staring contest. I didn’t feel as though I was doing anything wrong, but she was determined to make it known that I upset her. The downside was that I added to the ***hole photographer stereotype.

Patience will teach us that each person is having their own experiences throughout each day. She was clearly having a bad day and all I did was add to it. The right thing for me to have done would have been to just let her stare and continue to keep my focus on the herd of bull elk. Photographers can often get very distracted very easily simply by allowing people to break their concentration, which can completely ruin the moment of being with wild animals (something I learned a lot about this past fall). If someone’s having a bad day, it’s their problem, not yours. Be patient and let them go on with their day, even if it’s another photographer. By not engaging them they’ll go find someone else that will, so that their ego can feed from more frustration.

In having the patience to come back around to what mattered, and not let that driver ruin my experience with the bull elk, I was able to wait for this shot and be ready when I saw it happening.

12 thoughts on “Practicing Patience with a Herd of Bull Elk

  1. I think the lesson here Mike is to not be judgmental…it’s when we cross the line of just observing others (in this case your fellow driver) to judging them and letting that judgment impact our state. I find myself being much more judgmental lately and find that it only adds to the negative energy in my life. Hard skill to master…I think it takes a lifetime. 🙂

    Glad you had the patience of waiting out the Bull Elk Herd…that is a amazing photo!

    1. Yeah it’s definitely something I’ve become much better at in recent years. I think it’s when somebody is sending over that negative energy your way that it tends to be easier to get caught up into it than to just let it go. It’s something else I’m working on, but it’s lessons like these that serve as reminders down the road.

      Thanks for the comment and the compliment on the photo!

  2. I think the lesson here Mike is to not be judgmental…it’s when we cross the line of just observing others (in this case your fellow driver) to judging them and letting that judgment impact our state. I find myself being much more judgmental lately and find that it only adds to the negative energy in my life. Hard skill to master…I think it takes a lifetime. 🙂

    Glad you had the patience of waiting out the Bull Elk Herd…that is a amazing photo!

    1. Yeah it’s definitely something I’ve become much better at in recent years. I think it’s when somebody is sending over that negative energy your way that it tends to be easier to get caught up into it than to just let it go. It’s something else I’m working on, but it’s lessons like these that serve as reminders down the road.

      Thanks for the comment and the compliment on the photo!

  3. What an incredible shot!!! And a great lesson, I live near Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park and often find myself easily distracted by how other people are acting…. it definitely takes away from watching the wildlife and capturing that one of a kind picture – thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you very much, Angelique!  I think a lot of it comes with practice and determination.  It’s easy to get sucked into other peoples’ challenges and habits.

  4. What an incredible shot!!! And a great lesson, I live near Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park and often find myself easily distracted by how other people are acting…. it definitely takes away from watching the wildlife and capturing that one of a kind picture – thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you very much, Angelique!  I think a lot of it comes with practice and determination.  It’s easy to get sucked into other peoples’ challenges and habits.

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