How much of photography do you think is pure luck?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by youyesyou, May 7, 2004.

  1. youyesyou

    youyesyou TPF Noob!

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    I was contemplating this today, and I really started thinking about it. How much of getting a good photo is based on pure luck, and how much of it is based on skill do you think? I'm really interested to see what you have to say.
     
  2. Geronimo

    Geronimo TPF Noob!

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    I think there is a little luck involved, especially in the beginning. The longer I have been doing it the more I tend to look around me to "see" the image before it appears. I guess that is mainly for landscpace photos but I watch the skies and the real weather forcast to see the images before the come. Course Mother Nature does not always play nice either though. Or I am just too drunk to express myself.
     
  3. drlynn

    drlynn TPF Noob!

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    Most of mine is pure luck! :wink:

    I think that learning the how's and why's of photography increase your chances of making good images. Also, having an artistic eye to see what the final image will look like is important, but there is also sometimes a bit of luck involved.

    If you're a photojournalist, for example, and you're sent to Boston to cover a Red Sox/Yankees game. Just as you're standing in line to board your plane, a huge jet skids down the runway as it's landing gear doesn't lock on one side. You snap some awesome shots and win a Pulitzer. At least part of that was luck. You're in the right place at the right time and you have your gear handy. That's the luck part, in my opinion. Knowing how to get the shot to look good enough to print, tho requires some skill and some talent.
     
  4. vonnagy

    vonnagy have kiwi, will travel...

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    Seems like the more experienced you get, the less luck is involved (or perhaps it that you just increase you chances of getting lucky by your experiences?) :D
     
  5. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    "In matters of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind." -- Louis Pasteur

    This is the precept that Henri Cartier-Bresson followed, coining the term "the decisive moment".

    Chance plays a part, in that so much of what happens in the world is ruled by chance. Much of what we think of as order is an illusion. The trick is being prepared to capture that chance moment. The more skilled a person is, the better able they are to not only do what need to be done to accomplish this, but how to guide the factors in such a way that the odds are more in favor of giving them what they want.

    In other words: skill gives you better odds that you will find cool stuff and be able to capture it.
     
  6. Galaxy_Stranger

    Galaxy_Stranger TPF Noob!

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    More food for thought.

    The difference between pros and amateurs is amateurs wander around until they find something they think might look good, which is fine. A lot of great shots are taken that way. Pros learn what it takes to create the photograph they WANT and they go out and put as many conditions together as they can control to get the shot. They learn the TOOLS necessary to get what they want.

    The whole point is to create. Sure, there is a lot left to chance. But you must have a purpose. Remember the theory about the monkeys sitting at type writers?
     
  7. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Luck will get you a nice snapshot; skill helps transform it into something more.

    Even "being in the right place at the right time" really isn't always about luck. I explore and take notes about places, speculating on what different lighting conditions might do to an area. I research weather conditions, and consult my notes, and then make a decision where to go to find what I'm after. In other words I'm making educated guesses as to where I'll be more lucky.

    This question reminds me of another that comes up: which is more important? talent or hard work and perseverance? IMHO, talent can get you started, but hard work will take you farther.
     
  8. cfoto

    cfoto TPF Noob!

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    That's a broad question. The answers vary depending on the type of photography in question. If you're talking about being at the right spot at the right moment (I.e., a disater strikes), as some responded to, that will be luck (unless you're an ambulance chaser. Even then you won't be on the spot as it happens.). The part that isn't luck is a photographer (and especially a photojournalist) ALWAYS has his/her camera with them, loaded and ready to shoot. (As a photojournalist, I broke the ALWAYS rule this past weekend. My wife and I were out and we used her car. My spare camera was (that I ALMOST always have with me) was left in my car. Sure enough, we were in an area where a large fire had just broken out. We were on the scene before the fire department was. But it didn't matter, I had no camera and blew the CHANCE for some really good photos.

    If you're talking about portrait photography, say in a studio, that would be, and should be, skill.

    The actual photo taking (composing, metering, framing, etc.) in any situation should be skill. You should know enough about any given lighting circumstance, to be able to fire off some well developed shots. What the subject may be doing at that time, falls partially into the luck category, especially in shooting candids of people, or capturing wildlife in it's natural setting. You will lessen the "luck" factor the more dedicated you are. I know one photographer that spent a couple of weeks getting up every morning around 5 am and heading out into one of the state parks, looking to capture a really good photo of a deer. He got one. Was it luck? It certainly would of been if he went out just one morning and managed to get the photo, but he lowered the luck factor (odds) by being persistant. One could go on and on regarding this aspect for sports photographers (capturing a photo of a bat shattering during a baseball game), nature photographers and photojournalists.


    I read a bio of one of the National Geographic photographers (I'll try and find his name and add it later), who shoots hundreds of photos of one subject he's covering for one or two photos. He's had comments directed towards him that anyone that shoots that many photos will get lucky and be able to get one or two good photos. His answer goes something along the line like, ...it's important to take photos so that "every shot" is a good shot, but he's looking to capture the "best of the best". The decisive moment, that makes one photo stand out amongst all the rest.

    Luck comes mostly into play if you are a photographer who always relies on the automatic settings of a camera to do the work for you.
     
  9. Galaxy_Stranger

    Galaxy_Stranger TPF Noob!

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    Right. Many, if not most, of his shots look fantastic to most folks. But it's the few exceptional shots that he wants to create and sell.
     

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