Search or Serendipity? Someone remarked recently that great photographs cannot be found by searching or hunting for them. At first, it made sense, but when I really thought about it, I’m not sure I agree. There are many times when planning a photography adventure for the sole purpose of photographing particular settings turns out extremely well.
Planning a trip doesn’t necessarily mean that the resulting photographs will be mundane; on the contrary, time and money can be saved with planning by ensuring that aspects such as weather and lighting will be advantageous for the photography. In addition, routes can be mapped to save time and gas that might otherwise be wasted looking for specific or for intriguing locations. That having been said, there is another side to that argument, which may hint at the intended spirit of the remark.
The reverse argument favors the idea of serendipity—finding that amazing photograph when you least expect it—unplanned, uncharted, and completely spontaneous. I’ve taken many surprising photographs resulting from chance encounters. More often than not, however, I find the unexpected during a planned trip. One such photograph titled, Stained Glass Tree, was taken on a visit to a popular waterfall. Although the waterfall was stunning, the real beauty that day was a scrubby looking maple glistening at the edge of a cliff overlooking the waterfall, sunlight illuminating its multicolored leaves while patches of blue sky peaked between every crevasse.
So, what is the best approach? There is no one right approach, but the message in this is that whether you plan a photography adventure or not, make sure that you remain open to all of your surroundings, not just your intended destination. You will be surprised at what hidden gems can be found.