Friday, March 6, 2015

Luck & Photography

Sunset At Morro Rock - Morro Bay, California
In my last post I said, "Successful photography is about being at the right place at the right time with photographic vision." Someone wanted to know if what I meant to say was that you have to be lucky to capture a great photograph. The person is focusing on the "right place at the right time" comment and not on the "photographic vision" aspect.

It takes skill to capture a great photograph. Mostly, that skill is not in the ability to work a camera. Anyone can work a camera and get it mostly right. I didn't get the photograph above right. I should have bumped up the ISO one stop and increased the shutter speed by one stop. Instead, because of the camera settings that I chose, the water is a little soft upon close inspection. It could have been a bit more crisp.

The skill that's required is in the mind of the photographer. It's that second part of what I said: vision. It's experience. It's creativity. It's realizing the decisive moment.

Now "being at the right place at the right time" doesn't mean being lucky. OK, perhaps luck does play into it a little. In photography you create your own luck by putting yourself where you need to be. I had to be on that beach at that moment to create the image at the top. I put myself there. I was lucky in that the scene in the photograph unfolded on the one day that I was there (really, at the one short moment that I was there). But it was not luck that I was there. I purposefully drove to Morro Bay. I purposefully went to the beach.

If you want to find yourself at the right place at the right time to capture a great photograph, you've got to get yourself there. You have to purposefully be there. Photographer Richard Steinheimer said, "Photography is being in the right place at the right time, and that often means being someplace that other people are not willing to go."

I was lucky, actually. I was lucky that the "right place" was a California beach and the "right time" was during a lovely sunset. It could have been "someplace that other people are not willing to go." Instead, this time, it was an iconic location that people flock to.

You create your own luck. If you get yourself out there in the world with your camera in your hand, you will find yourself sometimes at just the right place and at just the right time to capture the great image. If you are not willing to do that, you'll have a much harder time finding that elusive great scene.

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