The Unexpected Moment

As I look at my favorite photos in my collection of photographs, I start to notice a pattern of how these photos came about. As all photographers or anyone travelling do, we all plan, map and scope out the itinerary of where we are going and what we expect to see. Deciding on the best time of day to visit a location and to try and capture that special moment. But even with the best of plans, we can never foresee circumstances of each and every day and what nature will provide to us.

One thing we all expect is that "I will be able to capture that shot" I am expecting if I plan it correctly but in reality, things don't always plan out the way we think they will. Factors such as rain, fog, no clouds to add drama to your scenes or there just is not enough character to the scene on that particular day. If you speak to landscape photographers that have captured that special moment, they have likely been to that particular location dozens of times, waiting, waiting and waiting for that unexpected moment to arrive. It’s very rare that those landscapes or moments we see in books or fine art are captured on a single day. It’s usually a life’s work of finding the right moment and mostly days that were unexpected.

Train All to Himself
Japan street vendor

So, this bring me back to my photos as I scroll thru my favorites. All my favorite shots are really unexpected moments. Times or locations which I never thought were going to be magical but ended up being a special moment in place and time. I would like to write here and say I have a special formula on how to get the maximum return on planning for a shoot but in reality, we really need to have the ability to realize when that unexpected moment is and capture it. This piggy backs off of Henri Cartier-Bresson's Decisive Moment, a legend in the photography world. There really is two parts to that decisive moment, first is to realize that unexpected event and two reacting and being ready to capture that decisive moment. 

Sometimes we find ourselves hesitating to take a shot, thinking "eh it’s just another plain old shot" or "I don't want to intrude with the person or persons around". But, I encourage everyone to go out and just take that shot, little do we realize the moments we miss that were unexpected. You could be walking down a street on the way to your target destination, and here you are focused on the end destination while not realizing what is here in front of you. The journey to your location really is where the magic happens and the more you go out and realize it the more you will realize what you have been missing. 

Waiting on the bullet train

Now that I have been living with the Leica Q, having a small camera really makes it easier to just go out and shoot. When everyone says bring your gear with you, it really is a must for all photographers. We all have those times where you’re not inspired to bring your gear or you don't think it makes sense to bring it as your run some errands. But as you drive or walk to your destination for that day you kick yourself in the foot seeing a marvelous sunset or scene on the street. Always have your gear with you or you will miss what is unexpected. Having a go-to always ready camera like the Leica Q has been the best thing in my photography life so far.

I have started to change the approach of how I plan a day. Instead of just going after a single shot or location, I have started to relax and take the long route around. Sitting in coffee shops on the way, taking a smaller or longer route to your location. Often times you will find something you weren’t expecting that could or could not be an amazing shot. But even though you may not find it interesting at that time, you may find something else to the photo once you get back to it on your laptop. I have countless images where I look back at the strip of photos and realize geez this would have been a great shot with a little better composition.

To bring this all together, the magic in most photographers is always in an unexpected moment. Let's all stop and look around during your trips and sometimes you will see the magic right in front of you. It could be a person of interest, a moment in nature or a interesting street. No real advice here but to just go out there and enjoy and be cognizant of your surroundings and you will start to see the magic in the ordinary.

Framed Lake Michigan
Petting Area
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