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Tuesday, 12 June 2012


I am reminded of the old Three Stooges film company, Miracle Pictures. Their motto:

"If it's a good picture, it's a Miracle!"

It certainly applies to my photography over the last forty years.

Or as I put it for my kind of work: "The best poses are the ones that are not posed."

I have no argument with the statement. Some of my best shots were unexpected. Many of my planned shots disappointments.

TOTAL rubbish.

Does this mean that by improving my photographic skills I can increase my chances of getting lucky? Now that's' magical!

The new Lens post on Jason Eskenazi speaks to this quote.


I don't know Mr. Greene but I can certainly affirm his observation, if not necessarily his stats. I'd be hard pressed to find a well-regarded candid of mine that did not feature some happy accident.

With today's happy snappy digital let'r rip mentality I think he is 100% correct.

Vindication at last!!!!!!!!!!

With best regards.


I think so much depends on what KIND of photography one is doing. In a studio, happy accidents should be rare, joyous, but rare. On the street, then happy accidents happen all the time. You can go to the place, be prepared and observant but you cannot make a moment happen. So, in that aspect, they are accidents. This takes nothing away from the preparation, knowledge, talent and skill required to capitalize on those accidental moments.

Chance favors the prepared lens.

....Which is why the best photographers spend a LOT of time at it, and have a LOT of skill.

Photography is 100% putting yourself in the time/place to benefit from happy accidents and having the skill to exploit them.

"The best photos arrive uninvited" - Jane Bown

I have a 70-200/2.8 (on APS-C) for this purpose. This and a few others. Hockey (lighting is lousy), gymnasium events (school concerts, plays, ceremonies). My daughter is midway through grade school and it sees a good bit of use. This past weekend, at the dress rehearsal for her upcoming dance recital, a friend asked about getting better pictures with her Canon T2i/tele zoom. I had her put it in sports mode. It was maxed out on auto ISO, wide open and shutter speeds were sluggish. I suggested getting closer where the lens could be a bit faster or she could use flash. I said that the REAL solution is to buy a faster lens. Being a non-photographer, she got to your conclusion a lot quicker. "For shooting this once a year ?"

I'm in a similar boat when it comes to video. I shoot video with my NEX-5 (love the quality of HD images) but when I have to shoot a whole play or school concert, it gets nervewracking (will it overheat before I get a break to cool it off ?) I've been debating a more 'permanent' solution, but this gets less use (and I'm not sure I'll ever value the resulting videos like I do stills) than the 70-200/2.8.

I enjoyed the PDN Pulse interview and it seem Stanley Greene is a good guy, but he obviously doesn't play the violin. I prefer what Rob Atkins above posted.


Did you take the time to read the article? I did because I thought like you at first.....the I read what the man was talking about and yes, he there is a lot of sence in his words. He's not talking about photographic skills, but photographic opportunities....about photographic carreers, and carreers are almost always based on luck, meting the right people, finding the right subject, being ahead of the Zeitgeist......you can have all the skill and couple that with all the talent in the world but if no one gets the chance to see what you are doing, you're basicly toast.

Now I must admit mr. Mike took the quote a bit out of context in order to poke us around a bit and let us read that article....but you have to read first then shout later David.

BTW I also like the Lewinsky episode.....three chears for Kodak I should say.

Greetings, Ed

By your actions you can increase your chances.

There's a difference between chance and accident, especially in landscape work. It's a little like tornado chasing -- you don't just go out and wander around the countryside looking for a tornado, but rather use all kinds of information to predict where tornados might form. Then you go there, and at that point, chance becomes important. But you had to give chance a chance, and if it works out, you weren't there by accident.

Great landscape photos almost always have something going on -- a winter storm clearing, a moon rising, white deer running against a black forest, and so on. Planning puts you where chance makes the photo, and technique lets you make the most of it.

So chance is maybe 1/3 of it...IMHO

As Weegee was supposed to have said, "f8 and be there".

I will go and read the article now, but note that we humans are very resistant to being told that we do not deserve and did not earn or have a right to what we are given.

You might find that some comments refelct these sensibilities:)


I was there when Greene made the remark at the Look3 photo festival, and I can tell you that the 1,000 photographers in the theater cheered with approval when he said it.

This amazing photo by Magdalena Solé illustrates Greene's point perfectly:


I honestly believe that to achieve a 25% hit rate takes immense amounts of skill.... ;)

but to get to this "75 percent chance" you have to go through the traditional "10% inspiration and 90% perspiration"...

it would be interesting to have a discussion on what people think is "accidental" . . . perhaps a little "senior"" for this kind of forum but none the less . . . . .

i've been a photographer for a long time - sole means of support for over a quarter of a century . . . lean years and fat years . . . . .

back in the day - way before the internet - it was all about ones "book", ones portfolio . . . . . . custom made boxes - aesthetic combinations of materials and design constructed to extend the impact of the work you were showing that particular client . . . .

i had one portfolio that i had embossed on the cover with the words "IT COULD HAPPEN" ..... art directors hated it when i would explain that what they were looking at were a relatively few images cherry picked from many years of shooting which had resulted in 99% of what i shot going to the never to be seen again file . . . . they hated it when i pointed out that given what i had already accomplished it was very very unlikely that on the day i was shooting for them i would be able create work that would find it's way to the box they had before them . . . . . the conversation would lead further to that they could expect "professionalism" and "excellence" if not the "miraculous" and that it was due to my desire to have a powerful working relationship with them that i bothered to make them aware of the distinction .... and of course they always believed what i did for them would somehow wind up in the miraculous pile . . . .

oh yeah, the tie in . .. . .

over the years i've learned to work in ways that i feel encourages the possibility of the "miraculous" - i've learned to work in ways that leaves room, even invites that which seems to come from outside of me or from somewhere deep in my unconsciousness to manifest itself in the work i'm doing . . . you wanna call that stuff "accidental"? fine with me . . .. . . in any case that kind of imagery is not something that you can predict or control or manipulate or technique or promise or expect - you learn to do great work when it's just you at the helm and you humbly recognize when that other stuff happens - you call your self lucky or graced ..... and you might as well sign the prints cause you were the one it came through . .. . . . personally i think it has more to do with a state of grace than the "accidental" - i think a lot of what is called unintended is simply pointing at the limits of our perception . .. . . but enough

one does what one does and sometimes we recognize the occurrence of that which we judge as elevated in comparison to our usual signature . . . . that's a great day


some say there's no such thing as an accident . . .. .

or maybe life is just one big "camera toss" ? . . .. .

my grandmother used to say that no matter how smart you were, no matter how good at something you were it was always just better to be lucky :-)

that's hard to argue with

As (I believe) Gary Player said: the more I practice, the luckier I get.

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