Sunday, February 8, 2009

The God of Happy Accidents

"Laila" 35mm

"Darkness and Light"

San Francisco
Sunrise in San Francisco, seen from the Bay Bridge

* * *
"A photograph is not an accident – it is a concept. "

"The ‘machine-gun’ approach to photography – by which many negatives are made with the hope that one will be good – is fatal to serious results."

—Ansel Adams

* * *

Three of the best photographs I've ever taken were shot without any preconception or planning. Each of them was accomplished in a single exposure.

Though I sometimes wrestle with Ansel Adam's stern words, I think in the end there is something wrong-headed about it. Why shouldn't we be open to a process of fate? Good artists recognize themselves as a medium for, rather than a source of inspiration. To draw a line between concept and coincidence is to deny the reality of artistic conception and divorce artists from the other half of themselves.

There is no way Adams could have crafted such powerful images without this knowledge, but in the end he may have wanted too desperately to own his work.

There is vanity and danger in denying the God of Happy Accidents.

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