The Dumb Luck Shot

July 15th, 2010 by Rick Sammon

Much as been written on the web about waiting years and years for all the elements in a scene to come together for a “once-in-a-lifetime shot.”

That’s all well and good, and sometimes it’s true.

But sometimes a good shot is just dumb luck. Here is an example.

In the above photograph, the five subjects are completely isolated, the side lighting is wonderful, the reflection is perfect, the background is effective in adding to the “sense of place” of the image, the dog adds an extra element of interest, and the exposure is good.

I even like the way the cowboy has his leg slightly lifted, and the way we can see the cowgirl’s silhouette.

Now, I could say that I waited years for a picture like this one. But in fact, it was just a dumb luck shot.

You see, I was co-teaching a workshop in Oregon. One night during dinner, one of the participants said, “Hey, look out the window, there is a great shot.”

We all stopped chowing down, grabbed our cameras, walked out on the porch, grabbed a shot, and went back to eating our pork and beans.

This is one of my favorite dumb luck shots, and dumb luck stories – once of many such stories.

The thing about dumb luck, however, is this: you have to be prepared for when those dumb luck moments present themselves to you. Keeping your camera handy, and knowing how to use it, increases your luck. So does understanding light, compensation, and lenses.

Below is another dumb luck shot. I was just in the right place (Mongolia) at the right time (festival) in the right conditions (overcast and dusty) and in the right location.

Explore the light – and good luck :-)



Keep up with Rick and Juan Pons at the Digital Photo Experience.



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One Response to “The Dumb Luck Shot”

  1. Chris Ward says:

    You may noy have planned that pose, but you still went to a location and had models(assumption) hanging out that facilitated the shot. You still understood the setting needed on the camera to take a picture that wasn’t over exposed, and shows good depth of field. Your composition to include the entire reflection was a conscious decision (assumption).

    While there are some elements of many shots that are luck, including many meticulously planned shoots, there is a lot far from “dumb” in a dumb luck shot. It does go to show that you should always be prepared for when the elements of luck align so you can take advantage of it.

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