The Element of Chance

One thing I have noticed over the years of traveling as a photographer, is that chance has always played a significant role in capturing a great photo.

One thing I have noticed over the years of traveling as a photographer, is that chance has always played not so insignificant role in capturing a great photo. You can have all the technical and artistic skills in the world, but when it comes to an interesting subject or story, being at the right place at the right time, sometimes makes all the difference.

To illustrate this, I have compiled a series of images and stories where chance lent me a helping hand:


Singapore National Day Rehearsal

It was July 12, 2008 and I just arrived in Singapore two days earlier. On that night I decided to go out and take some photos of Singapore’s many high-rises at Marina Bay. I had scouted a nice spot to in front of the Esplanade a day before, but when I got there I could see a large crowd of people gather along the embankments with loud music rumbling from a stage not too far ahead. Luckily no one had taken my spot, so I quickly set-up my tripod and camera and started taking photos as I had planned.

However during that time the crowd around me grew considerably, so I asked someone next to me what was actually going on. He said something about fireworks, which got pretty excited and I decided to stay. In the end it did turn out to be a hell of a firework with floating sculptures, air shows and boats parading down the Marina, which made the moment that more special. Off course I also got rewarded with a rather unusual photo of Singapore as a result of this memorable chance encounter. A day later I found out that all of that spectacle was just a rehearsal for Singapore National Day.


Regatta Storica Venezia (Venice Historical Regatta)

I had been inter-railing across Europe with a group close friends, when we arrived in Venice. It was the third time for me visiting Venice within two years, but I never lost the excitement for this stunning place. We had booked our accommodation early, so got a good deal for a large shared room in the middle of the city centre.

The day we arrived I could already notice that there was something special in the air. There were stages set up along the Grand Canal and you could feel a different buzz to the atmosphere of the city as if something big was going to happen. Having no clue of what was going on I asked the receptionist and she was a bit confused as to why we didn’t know about the Historical Regatta that would take place the following day. Apparently people would come here during this time just to watch this event, which besides the Carnival, is one of Venice’s largest. I clearly remember us discussing to postpone our visit to Venice by a couple of days so we could spend more time at the beach, and I’m glad we didn’t.

Knowing how crowded it can get at such events, I set up my camera on L’Accademia bridge a couple of hours early and waited for the event to start. I already took picturesque photos from this bridge before so it was a no-brainer to set up here. Whilst waiting for things to start my friends and me had to kill some time so started talking to other people around us. One photographer said he was coming here every year just to take photos of this event, which made it the more difficult to explain to him that we didn’t even know about this a day earlier. After 3 hours or so the parade of old historical gondolas with people dressed in renaissance costumes began and this photo was one of thousands I took in the space of an hour.


Oxford Rainbow

My first trip to Oxford was one of the more memorable day trips in the UK, not least because I was suffering from a strong fever and had to give up halfway through. Two years later, having already moved away from the UK and living in Germany, I had another chance to go back to Oxford. I arrived at the hostel pretty late during the day and was contemplating to stay in. However as I was only going to be there for one night I put myself together and headed out anyway to take some photos. It had rained when I arrived but the moment I stepped out the skies had cleared and the last sun-rays of the golden hour transformed this already beautiful place into a magical one.

I already felt lucky to be greeted with such a lovely scene until, whilst taking a photo of the Sheldonian Theatre, a rainbow appeared to my left. I was awestruck by the lovely sight and started taking photos of the rainbow. Although a photo of a rainbow was a nice thing to have I needed an interesting foreground to make the image really pop. It didn’t take too long wandering around, till I found the Bridge of Sighs, and lining up perfectly behind it the Rainbow.

When I think about it the reason why I was able to capture these images was that I keep venturing out with my camera and revisit certain places. The more you do it the higher your chances are of stumbling across these seemingly chance occurrences. So next time you go anywhere, try taking your camera with you, even though you might return with nothing, because if you did you won’t forgive yourself for being lazy.