Patience is a virtue: Waiting for that Special Moment

Patience is a virtue: Waiting for that Special Moment

A sweeper pushes her wheel borrow past my blue building.


One thing I have noticed with newer photographers is they are often in a hurry. They blow into a place and blow out snapping all along the way. Often leaving a wake of ill will with the community they are photographing as well. They become “drive by shooters”. One of the things I have been trying to teach my daughter on her photographic journey is patience. I want her to slow down and make an image, not steal it. I told her when I am photographing alone and I find a scene that might serve as a great background I might sit an hour or two and watch the people come and go with my camera, photographing every time I see something promising. People get used to my presence and start to ignore me. This morning I did just that. I spent around a half hour sitting watching this one building. It was a wonderful blue building with lots of patina. I photographed it two days back when we first came to Pushkar. I knew it had potential. So I decided to plant myself across the street and make this my stage. With my 18-35mm on one camera and my 70-200mm on the other I waited and was rewarded. I thought I would share with you some of the fruit of my patience.


The building. This was my back drop for 30 minutes of fun.


A woman with a red sari enters the building. I later found out it housed a temple upstairs.


I’d frame women in bright saris in the doorway as they passed by.


A parade of Ma Dev devotee walked by chanting just as the lady with the red sari walks out.


The red sari lady sits and another pilgrim finds rest at the blue building.


The red sari lady leaves and two more ladies in red passes by as the pilgrim watches.


I saw how nice the pilgrim looked framed under the arch, so I scooted a foot to my right and made this photo.


Others join the pilgrim and balanced out the image nicely.

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About The Author

Matt Brandon

Matt is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by business and organizations around the globe. Matt also on the design board for Think Tank Photo, a camera bag manufacturer. In 2013 Matt founded the On Field Media Project to train the staff of non-profits to use appropriate technology to produce timely as well as quality images.


  1. Karl

    Matt, you’re so right! Finding a great background and good lighting conditions, then waiting for a subject(s) often yields better results than constantly moving from place to place “in search of” images. I’m anxious to see more of your India photos, so please keep posting! All the best, Karl

  2. Ian Mylam

    Matt, I do exactly the same thing. To my mind, it’s like the difference between hunting and fishing – you find a good spot, perhaps a great background or beautiful light, ideally both – and then you cast your line and fish. Patience is a vastly underappreciated photographic skill.

  3. sabrina

    Matt, I’m wondering what you mean by “stealing” an image. For these, did you seek permission from the people in the images or is permission implied because they started to ignore you?

    • Matt

      Sabrina, I use the word “steal” here because it implies being sneaky. I don’t feel I was sneaky here as I was sitting in the open with my camera up, most of the time, and ready to photograph. I don’t want Jess to walk the streets see a photo op, shoot it and quickly move on. There might be times for that, but I don’t want that to be the norm. There are no absolutes here. The more I speak with people like Yamashita, Freeman and others the more I realize this type of photography is intrusive, no real way around that. But there are some things we can do to mitigate some of that and this is one way. Allow your self to be seen and eventually people will start to ignore you. I wrote a post about this sometime back called “Dear Beginner, You make ripples!” Does this help? Oh, and no I didn’t ask permission for any of these.

      • sabrina

        Thanks Matt. The word “sneaky” makes more sense to me and I agree that being out in the open does mitigate the idea of taking pictures of people without them realizing it.

  4. Kesh

    I really agree. This combines 2 of my favourite things. People watching and photography. I’ve been looking for some spots in Singapore and in Thailand to do this. It really is a good way to spend an hour and I also find it a good form of relaxation.

    BTW your India photo’s are giving bringing back lots of great memories. I forgot how much I loved shooting there!


  5. Tim

    This post is a great reminder of the importance of patience. I like the analogy to “making” an image versus “stealing” it. Using a tripod is a good way to slow down and reinforce this lesson. Any other practical tips?

  6. Matt Brandon

    Tim, thanks for the comment. As far as more tips – the blog is chalked full of tips and tricks. Feel free to poke around.

  7. Fabrizio cocchiano

    Beautiful colors and structures, Matt!
    Question: was the pilgrim joined by the 2 people because they simply did or did you ask them to? I lolike the composition.

    • Matt

      Fabrizio – They were a part of his party. He was traveling with what looked like five or six others. At first, they all sat off camera to his left, my right. Later, these two joined him. He was the only one of the group that was aware of my camera… at least I think. Just to make it clear, I did not ask anyone in this series to pose for me, including him

  8. Christy

    I completely agree. My boyfriend sometimes gets frustrated with me because I can spend hours photographing the same spot and he just wants to keep exploring.



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