When Preparation Meets Luck

If you are a street photographer and you say that each of your shots were well planned… YOU ARE BLUFFING!

Street Photography is one of a kind where it is the least about preparation and most about luck. Well, do not get me wrong when I use the phrase “least about preparation”.

Let me break that up a little… You have to be PRE-pared so that you don’t need to be POST-pared!

Did that make any sense?

In a more simpler language, your camera should be setup at the right settings (shutter-speed, aperture, etc.), before you start your shooting. Remember, the “decisive moment” happens only for a fraction of a second. You will not have the time to even switch on your camera (if it is switched off), let alone adjusting the exposure and all. This is your PRE-paration!

For POST-paration, all that you do is shoot!

In order to be most PREpared, what I myself do, and would also suggest you to do is apply the following settings:

  1. Shoot in RAW – The advantage of shooting in RAW is that even if your exposure is slightly up or down while taking the shot, you can still get it back to normal during post-processing.
  2. Shoot in Aperture Priority – Do not go for “Manual” mode if you aren’t really an expert at it. By the time you figure out the right exposure settings, the moment will already have gone. Keep your control on the depth-of-field (coz usually that plays a more important role in street photography) and leave the shutter-speed adjustment to the camera.

And if these two things are in place, then it’s all about luck. Some days you will spend 3 hours on the streets and come back with 10 satisfactory shots; on other days you may spend 8 hours and come back with none.

But trust me on this, if you are prepared, you will be lucky! If you aren’t, you will be twice lucky!

What I meant from the above statement is that the more unprepared you are, the more interesting things will happen in front of you, which you will not be able to capture. So the choice lies with you.

Now, coming to why I decided on writing this post!

Few months back, I was out with my cousins who had come to my city on vacation, and I decided to show them around. We went all around the city and I kept snapping here and there. Some shots were good, some ok, some instantly deleted.

After having a great time all day, when we were returning home, on the way I noticed a few kids playing in the backyard of their house. I switched on my camera (the settings were PREpared), and pointed towards the kids and tried taking a few shots. None were good enough. The distance was too much for my kit lens to cover. And to make things worse, the road which lead past the house was slightly downhill. So as I kept going nearer to the house, I also kept going down and eventually the backyard or the kids playing there was no more visible to me. I thought it was gone, and of course it was.

But suddenly, one of the kids came running to the railing that guarded the backyard and leaned over, and gave the weirdest/toughest expression he could. I’m not too sure, if that look was even for me or not. But luckily I had not switched off my camera and the exposure settings were also untouched. And this is where “preparation” met “luck”! I immediately raised my camera and took the shot. One of the best shot of my day. When I removed my eye from the viewfinder I noticed that the expression of the child had completely changed. He was stunned to see the camera pop out all of a sudden. I smiled at him and he too smiled back. And I had got my shot.

Wanna Fight

So be prepared at all times. You might never know when possibly your life’s best picture may pop up in front of you.

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5 thoughts on “When Preparation Meets Luck

  1. Excellent post! This is Very educative and useful advice for most of the amateur street photographers. Nevertheless, I consider you shouldn’t be so strict in some aspects of your statement.
    It seems you go out just for furtive good street shots. For amateur photographer, practicing techniques, it is ok; but, it doesn’t mean that you have to set your camera in Aperture Priority all the times. For instance, that could be not the proper setting, depending on what you are expecting to capture.
    Apart from that settings you mentioned, it is also possible (or necessary) to preview the location, pre-establish the point to place the camera, the use of a tripod, angle, flash, etc., and then, as you wisely said, you’ll (maybe) be lucky, not only having a good photo, but the one you are looking for.

    • I get what you are trying to say, and you are right in your own place. Basically it all depends on what a person wants to capture and how he wants to approach. It also changes from time to time and place to place. There is really no thumb rule. But this kind of posts are just like pointers to help people go out on the street and give them something to begin with. Professionals don’t require such tips. End of the day, all that matters is a good photograph… 🙂

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