One of the great pleasures I get from reading your blog are the tales of inspiration by ordinary photographers. Because of this I wanted to share with you and your readers the following story in the hopes it will prove helpful.
Many photographers I know, including myself, get frustrated after they spend a whole day shooting and end up with only one or two really good photographs. Their mood as they look at the 25, 50, 100 or more other pictures they shot usually runs the gamut from general satisfaction to disappointment to a sense of missed opportunity.
Over the summer I had the opportunity to visit the Henri Cartier-Bresson retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. This fantastic exhibit showcased some 300 photographs spanning the legendary photographer’s life. Each photograph was more inspiring than the next and it made me want to go right out in the street and start shooting. My exhilaration was, however, tempered by the sobering knowledge that I was going to shoot and shoot and end up with, at best, only a handful of really good pictures.
Then, as I left, a thought began to formulate that changed my photographic life. Cartier-Bresson spent his entire life traveling the globe as a photographer and was 95 when he died. Yet, the 300 images on exhibit averaged out to a mere 3 awe-inspiring photographs per year he lived. And this was for a man whose life’s work, day in and day out, was photography. Reflecting on this caused a wave of calm and satisfaction to pervade my body.
Now when I shoot I am looking for JUST ONE fantastic photograph. I don’t get depressed if 99% of my pictures are just “pretty good” because I have come to the realization that if I achieve one “decisive moment” each time I shoot, I will end up with a collection of photographs I will be truly proud of.
Now this doesn’t mean that one day, like Henri Cartier-Bresson, I will have my own retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art – but it never hurts to dream!