lucky photography

Posted by & filed under Travel Photography.

Have you ever taken a lucky shot?

One of those photos you didn’t expect. Maybe you didn’t even know you took it until you downloaded your shots to your computer and there it was, in all its glory.

bonnie caton
Bonnie Caton

And you thought, “Wow! How did I do that? If only I could do that all the time on purpose.”

We all get those shots sometimes. Even top-level photographers.

But a truly great photo taken merely by luck only happens once or twice in a lifetime.

When you see a jaw-dropping photo on the cover of a magazine, what you’re looking at is a split-second in time.

For the everyday person, it’s easy to assume that the photographer was just there at that time, they happened to snap a shot—and it happened to be good.

After all, that’s what most people do. They drive up to something pretty…lean out the window of their car…take one shot…and call it good.

It happens in a split second.

But there’s so much more that goes into a great photo than that split second.

There are the minutes, hours, days…sometimes even years of effort that the photographer spent planning the perfect shot.

Scouting the location… Planning the composition and waiting for great light… Making sure that everything was just right…

Not to mention the years of building their skills…

And sometimes, even after all of that, they still don’t get a perfect shot.

But more often, it’s the planning and forethought that leads to something incredible.

The willingness to wait around just a little longer to see if the light will change. The persistence to try another composition… and another…until it’s right.

So, when people see that end result on a magazine cover or in a stock agency, and think, “Wow, that photographer was in the right place at the right time. They got lucky…”

They’re missing all of the effort that went into it.

Yes, luck is a big part of taking great photos…but it doesn’t work consistently unless you put in some time and effort honing your skills ahead of time.

For example, if you’re going to the Grand Canyon and you want to take some stock photos, the chances of you leaning out the window of your car and grabbing just one photo…and that photo turning into a high-selling image…

That’s like winning the lottery.

It does happen. People do get incredible photos like that.

But if you want to consistently get good photos that you can sell, it’s not about luck…

It’s about shooting with intention.

What I mean by that is…

Instead of putting your camera up to your eye or holding up your phone, snapping one quick shot, and calling it a day…

What you need to do is take a few extra seconds to really look at the composition. Scan the edges of the frame. Notice what’s in the shot and what you’re leaving out.

If you’re shooting for stock agencies, make sure there aren’t any logos or trademarks that snuck into the image.

And ask yourself: Could I improve this photo if I moved forward a few feet? Or switched up the angle? Or maybe if I moved into better light? Or came back the next morning to see if the clouds clear up?

What’s cool about shooting with intention is that you can start doing it right now, and it only takes a few extra seconds each time you shoot.

Combine that with a little thought and planning… maybe building up some skills in using light and composition… And you’ll have the formula to create saleable photos that are exceptional on a regular basis.

To blow out of the water all those photos taken by people who just stepped out of their car for a quick shot.