It is easy to ride by a scene and not look twice. How many times have we all sped by, so busy getting to our destination that we don’t pay any attention to the great photo opportunities in front of us. Perhaps the only thing worse than a blurry photo is the one that you never take.

I can think of dozens of times that I told myself “Na, I’ll come back for that shot”, and of course when I do, the conditions are always different – and the image is gone. Stop and take the shot. You will thank yourself later.


Another missed opportunity is not noticing the things around you. We get conditioned to see things one way, from one perspective. We need to teach ourselves see the ordinary around us. To look at things as our viewers do – for the first time.

Johnny Horne, retired photographer for the Fayetteville Observer, once told me “Every good photo is intentional.” When we go out with the intention of taking a specific photo or a ‘genre’ like these Golden Hour Barn photos, we will always get better results than if we just wander about and fall into something.

The best photos you will ever take is when you go out with capturing something in mind. It also helps if you get lucky and run into Golden Hour – just after sunrise and before sunset.


Photographs taken in Bladen County by Sandhills Sentinel Photographer John Patota.

John Patota is a reporter for Sandhills Sentinel and a photographer and instructor that leads photo walks throughout the Carolinas and offers workshops on taking fabulous photos.

His work can be seen on, where he displays his images taken in the Sandhills and blogs advice and insights on subjects that beginners and experts will find useful.

Sign up for his Photo Friday newsletter at

~Written & photos by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter/Photographer John Patota.       

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