Photographers by profession are optimistic people. This is a pretty bold statement so let me try and justify it. I’m not talking about subject matter, I’m not going to argue that corner. When a photographer walks out of the door they are certain that they will make some great images that day. Why leave the house if you felt any other way.
Wandering around in the full assumption that the more places you go, the more things you see, the more people you meet then the more great images you will make. It’s almost a matter of quotas and I’m sure a mathematician would probably be able to draw up some complex equation for it.
As a photographer I have always been fascinated with the opportunities the world provides. Moments in time that come together in random and often unexpected ways. I have also been acutely aware that I am for the most part simply a passenger in this, a voyeur responding to these moments and saving them with a camera. During a career working with very creative people in advertising, publishing etc it has always been the random moments the world provides that seem to trump those that were brainstormed. Moments that leave you standing saying “wow”. Even if you have set up a photograph, something random may happen that just suddenly makes sense. You might even wait in the hope that a certain moment might happen and all of a sudden boom, out of nowhere it does. What’s more exciting is when something happens that is so profound that it changes everything. It may set you off in a new direction or make you re-look at the work you have already produced.
This is not magic, or luck indeed its a little insulting when people attribute an image to luck because is it really luck if you were looking for something, ready for it to happen? There are mad and crazy moments happening all the time but most of them go unnoticed. I bet if you take any one spot on the planet something extraordinary (or lucky) will happen there at some point in time. I’m not advocating camping out in the desert and waiting 50 years for it to happen. Fortunately we don’t need to because there really is so much happening in the world, so many moments that all you have to do is go out and look for them. It’s how we collect, organize and interpret these moments that define us as photographers.
As an example, I was shooting a travel story for Audi in Salalah. The brief was great, just take a brand new Audi down to Salalah in the rainy season, get some nice pictures of it as well as the surrounding area. We had a few ideas of what might make some good pictures, maybe the car with some of the seasonal waterfalls or in a few misty landscapes etc. I couldn’t have planned on shooting the car in lush green vegetation completely surrounded by hundreds of camels but there it was and all I needed to do was make I work as a composition. Needless to say we didn’t get the waterfall image but I was smiling about the camel shot for the rest of the day.
The next day driving back we spotted a localized sandstorm in the desert where the late afternoon light was giving one of those ‘got to shoot it’ moments. I set the camera up and all of a sudden in the background a couple of guys walked out of nowhere dragging a suitcase. I was a little confused but it was such a random moment that for me it made the image so much more interesting.
I think as a photographer when you walk out the door you have to have a blind belief that the world that will keep surprising and rewarding you with amazing photographic moments, because it does, you just have to keep looking.