Intuition and the Hunt

Before photographing a Youth Turkey Hunt last weekend, Sarah Ann Jump lent me her favorite photo book: “Photosynthesis: A Simple Guide to the Magic of Photography” by Bryan Moss. Moss’s beautiful writing is about the process and philosophy behind photography, rather than pictures themselves.

Here is a favorite passage of mine, that stuck with me as I sat in the woods at dawn in my camouflage, watching the sun rise and hearing the woods wake up.

“We can define intuition. We can quote hundreds of famous people about its undeniable role in peak performance.

But if we try to control it, it becomes more elusive than ever.

How, then, can we cultivate it?

There are hundreds of books that try to answer this question. But I think it’s relatively simple.

Photographers must live in the moment. Given the nature of what they do, they have little other choice. Previous and future pictures are irrelevant. The only one that counts is the one you’re making now. If the photographer is in tune with her intuition, concentrating on the moment and in tune with the subject, the result will take care of itself.”

 

This lesson about photography—that living in the moment is most important—is also something I learned and observed from the hunters. Hunters need to be in tune with their subject: animals and the natural world, in order to be successful. That’s also why many of them love hunting. Watching the hunters visually and emotionally become a part of the landscape was beautiful to witness.

Marlena Sloss/The Heraldat  in Jasper, Ind. on Saturday.
Maris Drew of Jasper, 11, applied camo face paint in the hunting blind at the Youth Turkey Hunt at Patoka Lake on Saturday. Drew’s hunting guide Shannon Gillette of Markleville brought the camo face paint, and said that the face paint is “sacred” to her.
Marlena Sloss/The Heraldat  in Jasper, Ind. on Saturday.
Maris sat with her father Mike in the afternoon while hunting. The Youth Turkey Hunt was the first outing the two had done together since Mike’s back injury two years ago, where he fell out of a tree stand and shattered his back.
Marlena Sloss/The Heraldat  in Jasper, Ind. on Saturday.
Hunters rested after spending the morning in the woods at Patoka Lake.
Turkey_Hunt_008
Brennan Masterson of Evansville, 15, held the turkey tail feathers and beard from the turkey he hunted at the Youth Turkey Hunt at Patoka Lake on Saturday. Brennan, who has hunted for four years, said that when he hunted the bird, he “was shaking, because it’s a big deal to me.” His favorite part of hunting is that “you get to stroll through the woods; it’s different than being in a city all the time.”
Turkey_Hunt_005
Hunting guide Shannon Gillette of Markleville held up a turkey decoy before taking Maris Drew of Jasper, 11, and her father Mike Drew out to hunt at the Youth Turkey Hunt at Patoka Lake on Saturday. Hunters place decoys near their blinds to attract male turkeys.
Turkey_Hunt_002
Cory Schipp of Ferdinand took down a turkey target during the practice session for the Youth Turkey Hunt at the Jasper Rifle and Gun Club on Tuesday. At the session, participants practiced aiming for the turkeyÕs wattlesÑthe flesh under the turkey’s throat.
Marlena Sloss/The Heraldat  in Jasper, Ind. on Saturday.
Hunting guide Shannon Gillette of Markleville asked Maris Drew of Jasper, 11, to talk about her experience hunting for Gillette’s Instagram story video after their evening hunt at the Youth Turkey Hunt at Patoka Lake on Saturday.

“As photographers we must cherish the experience, the picture-taking, and do it for the joy of the experience. The results are not important. What will be will be.”

 

Like Moss’s quote, every hunter said they didn’t care about whether they got an animal or not—but rather cherished the experience. There are many lessons to be learned from the people that let us document their lives.

Photographers: what has helped you cultivate “intuition” and “presence” that Moss references?

 

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