Why Decision Making Matters in Photography & Values

By BryanShane | #3PApproach

Wise-Decision-Making-by-Design-BPC-Nest-Building photo

In past blogs we have discussed why decision making (Governance) have such a critical influence on organizational functioning and success. Today, we will talk about why values play such an important choice in your decisions. Instead of using an image to illustrate the theme we will use the practice of photography itself to illustrate this discussion.

Organizations and people make decisions based upon values. Values establish a code of conduct for making decisions that serve the interests of the organization as a whole rather than those of specific individuals. In some cases, cooperative behaviour may be seen as a loss of power rather than a means of empowering the organization. Synergy in terms of cooperation, decision making, and the sharing of resources tends to be mandated at the management level rather than viewed as a normal business practice. This perspective is a reflection of a tradition of independent strategic business, rather than a strong and synergistic whole. In short, principles outline the norms through which all stakeholders make crucial governance decisions; and, ensure that the governance process is accountable, transparent and serves the organization as a whole and not the interests of individuals.  

So how does this apply to photography? Well let’s look at the heron family image and see how values apply to taking this image. So do we make our photographic decisions to serve the needs of the herons and heronry as a whole? Or, do we make the decisions to serve our own personal photographic ambitions. Is our code of conduct selfish and self-promoting or does it value the health and safety herons as more important than getting the image. Selfish value decisions can threaten the wellbeing of the parents, the chicks and the entire family and heronry. Putting the herons first ensures that they survive and thrive. It ensures that they can be enjoyed by others including photographers in future years.

In the case of this image, it was possible to capture it without unduly stressing the heron family. This required a number of precautions to be taken. The first was to identify a location that could be accessed without putting stress on the herons. The second was ensuring that there were no restrictions on accessing the land in terms of privacy or endangering your health. In this case, ticks were a prevalent threat so appropriate clothing was required. Since many heronries are located in swampy terrain, special equipment is needed to capture the herons at a long distance. A fast shooting DSLR (10 frames per second) was required along with a long telephoto lens. A tele converter and a stable tripod were also used. If video was being captured, a quality external microphone was also needed. Finally, a good pair of binoculars was required to monitor and anticipate where the most appropriate shoots make come from.

Beyond equipment, the strategy for approaching the herons even at a long distance required the right kind of weather (sunshine) and the right time of day (morning).  To capture the right kind of images required a lot of patience. Some days there were no appropriate shots. But other days, eureka moments tended to happen. So it also required a fair amount of time ranging around 3 hours per day including travel time. In total, 30 to 40 trips were made over several years to capture professional images.    

So how do you know if your organization has effective governance or decision making principles?  Ask yourself these questions to get a sense of how well your organization supports the strategic direction of the organization as a whole rather than the special interests of a few:

  • Is the process for arriving at a decision, the result of frank, open and earnest discussion?
  • Are decisions understood and actively supported?
  • Is the achievement of results actively and effectively measured?
  • Are decisions made with an appropriate sense of urgency?
  • Is the focus of committee work seen as a resource for a particular program or special interest?

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