by Daniel Hofmann
The last month was kind of a busy one. I moved to my favorite city in Germany – Hamburg, for the curious – for a new job and I’m organizing my first photo exhibition. No worries, I will write more about that when everything is done, but for now let’s talk about chance.
With so many things happening in big ways, it’s easy to overlook the small things that are actuality responsible for everything in our daily life. Like the moment I went into a gallery and ended up talking to the owner could have had so many different outcomes. He could have been busy or in a bad mood and I might have never ended up with the chance to show my photography in his gallery – to be honest I never even dared to dream I would. The thing is that it did happen, and I’m very grateful for that.
It did not all depend on luck, because I still had to make the decision to talk to this guy and he still had to like my work enough, but what I want to say is that something great can happen when our hard work meets a little bit of luck. It’s no different when it comes to my photography and probably yours. Let’s take a look at one of the most iconic pictures of Henri Cartier-Bresson: the guy who jumps over a big puddle of water and was captured by this amazing photographer midair. I probably get sued when I show this picture so you can take look under this link. Every photographer knows the feeling when you're standing in a particular spot and you just know that there is something special there. Everything comes together except for a little detail and now you just have to wait and hope for this detail to appear (or in some cases to disappear). In Bressons picture it was the jumping guy. Let’s not kid ourselves, this man was a genius with a camera and he saw the potential of the picture a long time before it really happened -- I believe this is an ability of all great photographers -- but this photo wouldn’t be as strong as it is without the impromptu ballerino. There are tonnes of possible scenarios where the guy ends up elsewhere in the frame; or he may have walked around the puddle instead of jumping over it; Bresson could have arrived too early or too late to get the light and the puddle in; the weather could have been different…
I think you know where I’m going with this. Most of the time we need a little bit of luck to push our photography from good to great. Before that, we have to learn our craft as good as we can, though. Only then those things can come together. I’m going to finish this post with a great quote from Charles Harbutt, which I read in an even greater book. It’s called “Eyes wide open” and was written by Mario Calabresi: “It wasn’t only I who looked for the photo but it was the photo that looked for me: every so often we would meet”