Comfort food for better photography.

The heart of a Nat Geo photographer lies in their stomach which is usually full of the contents of the empty ice cream container on the floor. Now, before you accuse me of being a trashy tabloid gossip revealing the secret addictions of the photographers that populate the pages of this blog, let me explain.

Being a photographer is a lonely profession. You spend much of your life redecorating the inside of your own head trying to conjure ideas, see truths in front of your lens and visually tell a story through a myriad of challenging circumstances. There are no absolutes in this job and an assignment never ends up as it was conceived. That is the magic and the plague of this business. When all your faculties are firing, you react, shoot, and then pat yourself on the back for a job well done. But when your just one of your faculties is off, you can go stark raving trying to ground yourself again to find the state of mind that makes you such a good shooter.

Joel Sartore’s grounding talisman is his favorite food, ice cream. During my chat with Mr. Sartore, he told me of being on an assignment when one night the ice cream urge hit him full force. Not just any ice cream, it had to be the creamy deliciousness of the Uconn Dairy Bar at the University of Connecticut, several hours away by car. It wasn’t even an internal debate. Mr. Sartore spent the next four hours on the road to and from Uconn for his favorite fix which put everything right for the rest of his assignment.

I would have thought Mr. Sartore’s story was unique until I visited with David Liitschwager in San Francisco. I mentioned Mr. Sartore’s ice cream story and David’s eyes lit up like a kid who has just found a Willie Wonka Golden Ticket in his candy bar. He told me a story of a Hawaiian Islands catamaran captain who had his boat specially outfitted with a freezer to store a three gallon container of ice cream so he could deliver it to the Kure Atoll making the catamaran the most remote double scoop dispensary in the world.

If the journey is the destination, then ice cream seems to be the fuel. I’m not suggesting that eating ice cream will imbue you with the talent of Nat Geo shooter, but there is common denominator there bares tasting.