Daily Inspiration #174 by Gallery.ag


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.

“Just One”

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!




  1. I love the snap shot of life from a car, several points of interest, nice tonal range and the bonus of reflected ladders from the window.

    Nice work

    Cheers Peter

  2. Very nice shots, I like No 2 and 3 the most. I’d also be interested to see the second one in a non HDR-version. I like HDR but for a comparison’s sake.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Rich, I agree, for me, photography is about the next shot. I love looking back at nice shots I have captured but to be honest, the real fire is the knowledge that the next time I come round a corner, cross a road, open a door… could be the one!

    Here is one I got while waiting the traffic light to change. You find nice photos in the oddest places don’t you think?


  4. Couldn’t agree more with the sentiments here. When people ask me how I got “so many good photos” of some event or whatever, I always say I shoot LOTS! The shooters that come here are of a breed (pro or non-pro) that do not go shoot one shot and move on. You folks understand the need that we all have to keep shooting. My best shot? I always hope it is my next one! And, of the images above, #3 is my tops. I love that it was shot from a vehicle (taxicab?) and focused on the street. Absolutely outstanding!!

  5. Your article certainly puts things into perspective. Like every photographer I ask why I continue to do what I do when it seems so badly rewarded on so many levels? I guess the answer ultimately boils down to passion and enthusiasm, the exploratory challenge to show others what has or hasn’t been seen before in a new light, to educate or to entertain. The master’s skill is in making the tremendously difficult look easy. Perhaps the key then is to brutally edit, as a handful of really good pictures is equivalent to a handful of really good friends – learn from them and always choose quality over quantity anytime.

  6. “The dirtiest secret in photography is you gotta take a lot of pictures.” Chase Jarvis.

    “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst” HCB.

    click, click — snap, snap… do it up!

  7. The second shot is Magic.

    Its funny cause I have been grappling with this same thought especially after having just shelled out 10k for the m9 etc, my expectations were at an all time high. Then I actually realized that my goal is to just have fun taking the pictures anything extra is a bonus!!

  8. One good shot for a days shooting is GREAT!. The hard part is….putting the time in…being really critical (extremely so)…and then to say…there is really nothing here….even though I put the time in.
    I came back with nothing with truth in it…and throw them out…and try again. NOt to just show something for the time that I put in. Self-editing is an art in itself.
    Number 2 is cool.

  9. That first shot is wonderful: vertical verticals, makes me wonder about the lives of all those people in there, makes me think of Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”, I like the patterns, and the repetition in the patterns, and the “odd ones out” which make the picture a puzzle!

    I can sit and look at it for ages.

    David Bailey used to be fairly happy if he got one worthwhile shot from a roll of 36.

    • I love that one as well. Reminds me of Physical Graffiti. Love the guy in the window frame. It’s almost as if he’s painting himself inside that picture frame, kinda surreal.

  10. AG,

    Great pictures. I saw the Cartier-Bresson show and had a similar revelation. Instead of wondering how many good shots I might get in a day, I decided to focus on getting “One Good Shot.” Over the course of a year that will add up.

    Most photographers only show a single digit percentage of all their work. We never see some of the best shots.

    Here’s “One Good Shot” from Chinatown.


    Best-Adam [img]http://www.flickr.com/photos/29010922@N03/5149096671/in/set-72157623378794977/[/img]

  11. I really like the 2nd image and unusually don’t care for color. Could you give us some background on these images and how you produced them? I am curious.

    • The 1st image was shot in New York City with a Panasonic DMC-ZS7 & there was some minimal adjustments in Aperture 3. The 2nd image was taken in New Orleans with a Leica M9 & 35 Summicron F2 ASPH – processed with Aperture 3 & HDR Efex Pro. The 3rd shot was again taken in New York City with my Leica M9 & 35 Summicron F2 ASPH – used Aperture 3 but the image is straight out of the camera. I have a few more of my images online at galleryag.blogspot.com & would welcome your thoughts.

  12. the second one is truly outstanding. my eye just roves around, taking in the life and expectations of that man.

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