When the Photography Gods Smile
I do love the idea of good luck, but I agree with the unknown author who said, “Luck is when opportunity knocks and you answer.” From time to time I see “luck” in extraordinary photos posted on Instagram. My typical comment on such a picture is, “The photography gods smiled.” That comment certainly applied to this photo taken by an exceptional street photographer, Vicki Windman.
If you look at Vicki’s portfolio on Instagram, @vbarn106, you will see a lot of photography god smiling. We all want the photography gods to smile for us. Is there anything we can do to get in on the smiles?
Give the photography gods a chance to smile.
Go out looking for opportunity. Look for interesting light, interesting backgrounds, interesting signs. Imagine the person or persons you would like to photograph there. Then wait, but use your time well. Take shots of everyone who walks through. Make sure that your settings yield the exposure and focus that you want. Determine when you have to press the shutter to get the person in the exact position you want them to be in.
I was with a group walking through Ramallah on a city tour. This shop was interesting to me, but I only had a few minutes to see who might come along. I took a good number of pictures, but nothing of real interest. Then, the photography gods smiled. These two women from very different cultural worlds approached each other. Incredibly they were both wearing black with accents of red. The original image was a bit underexposed and was definitely not level, but I could fix it sufficiently in post processing.
When the photography gods smile, notice it.
If something captures your interest, that is the time to really focus on that scene or event. Your intuition can alert you to the possibility of an unusual human transaction.
I was sitting in the grass waiting with a crowd for the Redbull Flugtag event to begin. All around me was a smorgasbord of humans transacting in small groups. This young couple got my attention because they seemed very much in love and, also, incredibly attentive to their dogs. I was taking pictures of other groups, but I was absolutely returning my attention to these two. The photography gods smiled and I was rewarded with an outward sign of their affection.
Do not bring preconceived ideas about what exactly might make the photography gods smile.
You can have one photo in mind, perhaps even planned out, but be open to other opportunities.
I was visiting the Prague Castle, again as a part of a tour group, when we came upon a performance by the Prague Castle Orchestra. This orchestra, billed as the world’s smallest orchestra, has four musicians who have been performing in front of the Prague Castle since 2000. Our group was up on a hill fairly far away from the orchestra. Really, I was frantic to leave the group and rush down to the orchestra, but that was not an option. The opportunity passed when the orchestra finished their concert just as we started down the hill. I was so disappointed. Then the photography gods smiled. I got close enough that I was able to get a picture of contrabass player, Zdenek Kasparov preparing to go home. In truth, I do not take particularly inspired pictures of live music performances. Perhaps the photography gods knew that and gave me a different opportunity.
The photography gods can be mirthless.
Sometimes it could have happened. But it does not. I like this picture. I like the spontaniety, his smile, the way he has to catch himself.
But here is the street art behind them that I missed. It would have been perfect if I had gotten into place soon enough. There would also have been fewer background distractions.
Look through your street photos. Can you find one that seems to be the result of particularly good luck? Think back on the circumstances that lead to that shot. Was there something you did that you could do again in the future to get unexpected good results? If you post a photo on Facebook or Instagram that you feel was lucky, please use the hashtag #dbwstreet so that I can see it.