However, planning and preparation can only achieve so much. The landscape photographer may arrive at the right time of day, but be thwarted by bad weather; the wildlife photographer might sit in his hide for hours without a sight of his hoped-for subject.
There is often an element of chance and luck as well as the careful planning. And as the French chemist Louis Pasteur said, “Chance favours the prepared mind”.
A few years ago I came across a beautifully coloured gateway in Venezuela. For various reasons, I didn’t have my DSLR with me, but just my new compact camera. I didn’t feel very comfortable with taking a photo without having a viewfinder to look through – or a tripod to help me fine-tune my composition!
There were lots of tourists going in and out through the gateway, as well as traffic going past on the road outside, so I had to wait quite a while to get a people-free moment for a photo. Eventually there was a pause in the comings and goings, and I snapped a picture.
Because I felt so little confidence in my ability to have got it right with the compact, I decided to wait a bit longer for the next lull and have another go. Eventually there was a moment, and then just as I was about to take the photo a lady stepped into the gateway. She was perfect for the image – wearing the right type of dress in an ideal colour, standing in the right place, even looking in the right direction.
I had time for just one photo before she turned and saw me and the moment was gone. Every now and then, we all get one of those pieces of serendipity – this was certainly a lucky one for me!
For further information about photographic composition consider taking our course on Finding the Picture