Photography is such a crapshoot. No pun intended. Throughout 50 years of taking photographs, for both business and pleasure, there’s been countless times (hundreds, if not thousands) when I was certain I just captured a classic image. Less than a dozen or so of those visions turned out to be as good in reality as in my mind’s eye. And, ironically, half of those could be attributed more to luck than skill.[Humblebrag disclaimer] When I asked Ansel Adams about his recent trip to Yosemite (circa 1988), he answered, “I did get a few good photographs in Yosemite, but I fear not enough for a book! There is always another time!” The genuine humility displayed by such an extraordinary photographer only reinforces the unpredictable, mercurial nature of the discipline. Adams also famously articulated his view of photography this way: “A true photograph need not be explained, nor can be contained in words.”
THE MORAL here may be that one good picture is worth a thousand mediocre ones. Which might help to explain why photography is the only art that benefits from the rare coincidences of patience and quickness, and of confidence and humility.
The shot (above) of the three boys playing and spontaneously posing in street pipes was pure happenstance. This personal favorite was taken almost 50 years ago in San Francisco for a university course assignment. For me the image validates the thousands upon thousands of camera clicks since. And offers the hope and challenge to again have the good fortune or good luck to catch that proverbial “decisive moment.”