On Not Getting The Shot That You Want

Photo by John Barbiaux

We don’t always get what we want.  But if you try sometime, you find, you get what you need.  Deep right?  I just made that up…  It’s all me…  Don’t look it up.*  What’s your success rate in photography?  Have you ever sat down and crunched the numbers?  Think about it, if you’ve made a handful of truly great images in a year, and you took 5,000 images (let’s assume a virtual handful is 6 in this example), your hit or success rate would only be .12%.  But guess what?  You aren’t alone.

* Rolling Stones actually made that up.  It’s lyrics from their song You Can’t Always Get What You Want.  But shame on you for not knowing that. 

It’s generally rather depressing to look at my contacts – one always has great expectations, and they’re not always fulfilled.

Elliot Erwitt (Magnum Contact Sheets)

 Many of the greats before you and I figured out early on that truly great photographs demand patience and preparation.  Like anything in life, preparation is 90% of the equation (like most statistics on the internet, I just made that one up…  But you get the point).  Preparation is the reason I have a camera with me 99.9% of the time.  I’m not exaggerating, if it’s not one of my professional cameras it’s my iPhone…  The only place my phone does not go with me is the shower (get on that Apple).

Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Patience is a virtue in life and photography.  You’ve got to be patient enough to wait for a great shot when you are out and about with your camera and you’ve got to be patient enough to understand that you’ll go days, weeks, and sometimes months without getting that great shot.  To be honest, the better you get at photography the harder it is to create great shots.  Don’t worry though, that’s a good thing…  That means than you’ve evolved along the way and you will continue to push past what you thought you were capable of.  Being content with your abilities is a recipe for uninspired work.

0314_untitled_048Ultimately, if you prepare and remain patient you’ll endure long enough to capture the shot that you want.  You’ve got the ability to create truly amazing photography if you continue to work hard at it.

Both images you see here were taken with the Nikon Df:

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What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to get a shot you want?  I think mine would be to climb down a sheer cliff in my sandals and board shorts while on my honeymoon, when I look back and think about that I think it was quite dumb of me but in the moment…  I wanted the shot.  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.