A recent conversation on Twitter started me thinking about how much luck plays a part when taking pictures. I firmly believe it is an element in all creative pursuits. Let me first state clearly that I am not claiming that great photographers lack skill or that their success doesn’t involve talent, planning and hard work. When I say luck plays a part I do not mean that wonderful pictures are a fluke, that if you press the shutter often enough, probability dictates you will sometimes get lucky. I am saying a chance element is always involved.
However much we plan and prepare for a phot trip there are always elements beyond our control. At a very simplistic level we are dependent on luck for the weather, for the behaviour of any moving elements in a scene and the way those things interact with each other. True creativity is not achieved by slavishly following a set of procedures learnt and developed over time. Creativity comes from experimentations. Finding what works and that requires luck.
Let me illustrate what I mean with an example. The photograph below is one I am rather fond of. I had a clear idea in my mind before I took it of what I was hoping to achieve but for it to be a success I needed luck. I needed some movement and I needed some sharp elements. That meant playing with different shutter speeds until I got lucky and it just ‘worked’. I also needed some people to move and some to stand still for long enough to stay sharp. I could have done all the ‘right’ things and still not got the picture I wanted. That’s why I say luck plays a part.


On The Beach
On The Beach

Luck isn’t just involved in icm, multiple exposure and long exposure photography (where its contribution is most obvious). For me it is what adds that element of tension to carefully crafted images, that would otherwise appear formulaic and uninspired

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