I’ve talked a lot in my live seminars about photographers whose plan to make great photos is based on sheer luck. They’ll go out shooting and hope that something just comes their way – some great photo just falls into their lap, because they’re not really doing anything to make a great photo happen on their own.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for getting lucky (I call it “Getting even” because so many times there are things we can’t control, like the weather, that destroy the best laid plans), but it doesn’t make a very effective strategy.

The reason I’m thinking of this now, is because I’ve been watching photographers like Erik Kuna, or my buddy Paul Kober, who work really hard to make a shot happen, and it’s in such stark contrast to what I see so many of us do. For example, Paul had a shot he wanted to create of marathon runners and he wanted to use a really slow shutter speed so the runners would be blurred with a backdrop of downtown Chicago right along the river. So, to get this shot he envisioned, here’s what he did.

  1. Two weeks before the Chicago Marathon, he drove from his home in Michigan to Chicago to scope out locations along the route.
  2. The week before he set up his camera rig in his driveway and keep running by it, each time firing the camera wirelessly and trying different shutter speeds to see which one would give the right amount of blur.
  3. The day before the Marathon he drove back to Chicago and tried out his set-up at different locations (he wound up strapping his Platypod to a pole) and testing out different angles and positions.
  4. He got up at dawn and got in place before anyone was there for the race to make sure he could get the location he wanted.

Did he get “the shot?” He did (that’s it above), and it’s definitely a solid shot, but he feels like it was just his first try at it, and he learned a lot, and he’s already planning his next blurry runner marathon shot so the best it yet to come, but the important thing is that he’s working to get the shot, and that means it’s just a matter of time, and effort, not luck.

He’s not hoping a great shot falls in his lap – he’s out there trying to make it happen (like Erik Kuna does when he plans an entire family vacation around getting to locations where he can shoot the Milky Way with a great foreground).

So, this week – ask yourself this question, “Are you working to get the shot, or are you waiting for it to fall into your lap?” If it’s the latter, you might be waiting a long time. Put in the work. It’ll pay off.

Here’s to a week of hard work, learning lots, and making some great shots!

-Scott

P.S. It’s just two weeks to the Portrait Photography Conference. I’ve got some killer classes lined up, along with an absolutely top-notch instructor lineup – it’s going to be epic. Details and earlybird discount tickets right here.

About The Author

Scott is a Photographer, bestselling Author, Host of "The Grid" weekly photography show; Editor of Photoshop User magazine; Lightroom Guy; KelbyOne.com CEO; struggling guitarist. Loves Classic Rock and his arch-enemy is Cilantro. Devoted husband, dad to two super awesome kids, and pro-level babysitter to two crazy doggos.

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