Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fortuitous Photography


I was out with a group at the Grand Haven pier last night. While I was out on the pier taking a long exposure shot, a gentleman walked by and commented on the "fortuitous photo" I had just taken. Since a kid had just ridden by on a bike with a blinking light, I agreed and kept on taking photographs.

The bicycle photo didn't turn out, but later on in the evening I was taking a long exposure photo of a motorbike and a couple pickups backed up behind it. This left some light trails that help separate the bike from the background. While the jury is still out on the photograph itself, the happenstance helps illustrate this post.

Fortuitous has a couple meanings, somewhat related. One is occurring by chance. The other, which I think is somewhat more related to photography is lucky or fortunate.

Thinking about the comment the rest of the evening, I realize that while I try to plan what I'm going to do with the camera, a lot of photography is dependent on fortuitous circumstances. Is the light right, how about the weather, or is someone doing something interesting? While a portrait photographer can set up the scene and take a photo, do they make a connection with the subject or is the subject even in the right mood? Did I recognize that a good scene was unfolding and was I ready to capture it?

I used to have a boss that said he would rather be lucky than good. While he was mostly joking and people tend to make their own luck, I realized early on that circumstances and happenstance happen all the time. You just have to try to recognize what is happening and be quick enough, or lucky enough to photograph it.


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