I’m not one to proclaim my photography skills from a mountain top. There’s not many photographers I know that act like all-knowing Gods. Those that do, I usually avoid. While I am not laden with obvious skill – I will admit to a lot of luck. Some of the best photos I have taken have been sheer luck: Right place, right time, that split-second chance of pressing the shutter button at that the perfect moment in time. Or, the luck of having a vision for a shot, reading the light, and then being blessed by the previous. I have never subscribed to spray and pray.
I don’t know a lot of photographers that will admit the factor of luck. You can minimize it (or maybe maximize it) by knowing your camera, your lenses, the reciprocals, in short: your craft, inside-out. But luck is still there. We’re talking about fractions of seconds we attempt to freeze in time, on memory card or film. That’s luck, experience yes – but a lot of luck. A lot of luck, unless you’re pressing that shutter like a machine gun – spray and pray, baby!
Back in the film days you had 24 or 36 exposures to play with. I can’t tell you about the anxious waiting for film to be developed when I shot for a newspaper. Did I get what I wanted? Was anything useable? Was the editor going to chew me a new one because there are no event or standalone photos? We didn’t have the pleasure of the blessed spray and pray that a lot of digital photographer seem to depend on. Fill up that 64 Gb CF card – there’s bound to be something useable – even if it has to be salvaged like a sunken galleon in Photoshop. There’s skilled luck and dumb luck. Spray and Prey is dumb luck.
The above shot was luck, not dumb luck. It was rainy, as it often does in Hong Kong in the spring and summer. I was standing at the front door of medical clinic waiting for a perscription. I had my fresh Fuji X-T1 held mid-chest, in aperture priority mode, using the moveable LCD. I saw the rain, umbrellas, modest precipitation related chaos, and had decided to snap a few frames. The minibus came into the viewfinder and I found gold. Dumb luck? A little. It wasn’t spray and pray, I had an idea of what I wanted. Luck all the same.
I’m interested to see what photographers think about luck and how it figures into their work. Thoughts?