The Luck of St. Photographer


It’s your main guy Joe of Joe U Photo coming at you with another long-delayed blog post that is, for some reason, corresponding with another holiday!

In honor of St. Patrick’s day I thought it could be fun to discuss the concept of luck as it relates to photography.

Over the past 6 months I’ve had the opportunity to shoot a handful of concerts for Do312, a local event promoter here in Chicago. It’s a lovely experience and one that I value highly, but every time I shoot a show I can’t help but wonder how much of the world’s finest concert photography (or just photos in general) can attribute some of their success to that illusive element of luck.

Before we get too deep into the shamrocks here, I want to make it clear that the most important element of capturing any memorable photograph is most definitely skill. BUT! It’d be foolish to ignore the role chance plays.

Take this series of photos below that I captured during Sharon Van Etten’s performance at Thalia Hall for instance. I was fortunate that I was fairly familiar with her tunes so I could predict fairly when high-energy moments were going to happen. That said, some of these images have very sick and tight and dope lighting going on and I happened to be in the right place at the right time. Is that skill? I’m not sure. Getting the image in focus, having your exposure right, editing it with purpose, that’s all skill—-but there’s an element that’s out of your control any time you photograph something.

Even in a studio situation where every single piece of equipment has been meticulously placed to evoke the perfect emotion from a subject, what if your model is in a bad mood? What if they’re giddy with excitement? What if they look just the right direction at just the right moment and you press the shutter button at just the right time? First of all, great job! Can’t wait to see it. Second of all, there’s some luck involved there homie.

So let’s all just make sure we do the best we can and accept that, at some point, luck is going to have its say.