Does Timing and Luck Matter in Photography?

As photographers, we are constantly on the prowl for that decisive moment.

But like most things in life, I believe that there is an element of “luck” – or to put it simply, circumstances that can affect how our photos turn out to be.

For example, it is not always possible to predict the weather or lighting conditions – factors that are crucial for most landscape and travel photographers. Of course, if you work primarily in a studio setting, some of these factors may not apply to you. But everyone’s mileage is different.

Without going into too much detail, in this piece, I will be telling you a short summary of the circumstances that led to each of the below pictures.

Chinese Gardens Pagoda
Chinese Gardens Pagoda, Singapore.

I can assure you – I really don’t know the guy. At the time, after an arduous climb to the top of the pagoda, he popped into view just as I was pointing my camera downward to capture the spiral stairwell. Releasing the shutter was a split-moment decision at the time – and voila! – here you have one of my “luckiest” pictures!

Bird in Cordoba, 2020.

Bird in Cordoba, 2020 (shown above) was taken during my visit to the Great Mosque of Cordoba in 2020. The time of day contributed to the shadows of the Moorish arches against the inner courtyard walls. All I need was for a subject to move into the frame, and lo and behold – one of the nearby pigeons suddenly strutted into the frame!

Fighting Cocks, 2014.

Fighting Cocks, 2014 (shown above) was taken at Ha Long Bay in Northern Vietnam in late 2014. In the winter months, it is typically quite foggy in the area and visibility can be rather poor (unless of course you are indeed looking to capture the ethereal beauty of land during the foggy days). I hadn’t planned to stay over for a couple of days, so it was quite the luck that the weather was clear (and thus, visibility was good) at that time.

Adapting to Circumstances

I am often tempted to think in terms of what-ifswhat if the weather was better? What if I was quicker? What if the lighting was softer?

If there is anything to take away from this piece – know that there are certainly factors that we cannot control. But if my experience is anything to go by, we can certainly adapt to circumstances – there is almost always something to photograph even when things don’t go as expected, so just whip out your camera and enjoy the process!

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