Good Luck, Bad Luck, and Ugly Photography

by T.M. Schultze

“You got so lucky with that shot!”

You’ve heard this before. People say it about your work. People say it about the work of people you know. Many photographers think only “good luck” will get them an impressive image.

“I didn’t get a shot. Bad luck today.”

You definitely have heard this one. Perhaps you are guilty of it yourself, as I sometimes am. No doubt, people you shoot with probably say it.

Was it luck though?

Deep down, you know the answer.

You are not creating a photograph, you are creating art. Your eyes and your TTL do not affect your view of your creation, they are merely reference tools.

You exhort to people that you do not create art by showing up, setting up, and clicking the shutter. You know it doesn’t happen that way.

For you, art begins years, perhaps decades before.  The image you want is in your head.  You live it, you breathe it, you dream it.  It will take many attempts to make your dream become reality.  Perhaps the finished product isn’t quite what you dreamed of, but that thought led you down a road to something different, new, and invigorating.

And luck?  Well, surely you studied the weather associated with your photograph.  You knew exactly what time of year to shoot it, perhaps on the perfect day.  You’ve been to this place many, many, times, because after all, if it’s your first time there, luck will be the only thing you have going for you.  Luck spares nobody though; you will likely go home disappointed unless this is just the start.

You also knew exactly when to make that image.  Lots of time and practice has honed your technique.  You have even considered your settings, framing your composition just right, and taking just enough of the depth of field you need and nothing more.

You may start to understand what I am saying here.  Luck does exist.  Good luck happens, and bad luck perhaps, happens more often.  But to rely on luck is to give over complete control of your art to someone else or something else.  A life of art well considered, well studied, and well prepared is a life that increases that luck.  As the saying goes, luck favors the prepared.

Be one of the prepared.

And when somebody tells you that you got lucky, you can tell them you’ve had this moment in your mind for years.

T.M. Schultze is a San Diego area-based writer, photographer, and traveller.

He has served on the San Diego Photo Club’s Executive Board for six years, served as Webmaster, and was the President of the Photo Club from 2014 – 2018.

You can view his work at https://tmschultze.com.

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