I would like to say that there comes a point on the trajectory of every photographers life and career path where, unplanned of course, they take a picture which is pivotal. A frame where everything comes together through a sprinkling of unicorn tears and leprechaun eyelashes and it's just 'Yes!' 'Wow!' 'Damn look at that!'.
But I can't speak for everyone. Whilst I suspect most photographers will have a shot which might be described as the first 'One', I have no true idea to what extent this is the case.
For me however, this really did happen. 8 years ago, a scant three weeks after my second son was born.
After many years of kind've thinking somewhere in the back of my mind I might like to explore taking photographs more seriously, I finally bought my first digital camera. A little Canon Ixus 750. I was attracted to it because not only was it decent quality; it was tiny. It could slip into any pocket or bag and be the camera you always have with you. A concept which was immediately appealing.
So I began. I started taking pictures of all sorts of things but primarily of course, my new born son, my partner and the environment we were living in. It was fun. At the time we lived in a converted barn pretty much in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields and a good ten minute walk to the nearest proper road.
One morning I was out by myself walking the dog in the fields. She stopped with the sun behind her and I saw there was a spiders web directly between me and her, backlit by the sun. The camera was in my hand, I grabbed focus and bang. I caught this..
..Moments later she moved on and if I'd been any slower it wouldn't have happened.
I didn't realise what I had, or its significance until much later when I got a chance to get the days photos on to the computer and have a real look through. When I found this, I uttered words to the effect of "Woo Hoo!! Look, look, look," to anyone who would, well, look. I thought, 'I can do this'. Really cool pictures are achievable.
There is no formula. If Only. But there is a magic that can happen when various elements conspire. Composition, light, shadow, exposure, focus, depth of field. All these and sometimes more play an essential role in dictating whether a photograph works or not. Is great or not.
Ever since I nailed this picture I've been striving to lift my game and get the most out of whatever it may be that I'm shooting. This is the image that taught me about the transience of photographic opportunity. Of the myriad variables, and how timing can be crucially important - the difference between an OK shot and something wonderful. Half a second can make all the difference. A splash of light in just the right place. A five degree shift in angle. All these and more can be the thing that swings it.
There is no end point in the learning process. As long as we keep on shooting we cannot stop improving, which is brilliant when you stop and think about it. But an understanding of the above points goes a long way towards keeping us sharp and hungry. Always chasing that next frame of juicy satisfaction. To be the best that we can be.
This is part of what makes me tick as a photographer so I wanted to share.
Back with more soon..