With photography, you need skill, patience, lots determination – and a bit of luck – to get a good shot.
Since I lack skill and patience, I rely a lot on luck to get my shots. Below is a look at five of my favorite shots of last year and a little story about how I got them.
I had become frustrated with Cuba. There are a lot of people who come up to you, strike up a friendly conversation, and then after a minute ask for money. I was having a difficult time making genuine connections.
I decided to pre-emptively attack. I went for an evening walk with my camera and I decided to shout buenos tardes and smile at everyone before they could talk to me. I went on a friendliness offensive, and it worked – no one hassled me. They probably thought I was insane.
During my walk, I saw this man sitting in front of his house and I had to ask for a photo. He said okay, and I snapped a photo. I then moved over about 3 feet to get a better background and he adjusted the rooster so it was looking at me. I fired off a couple of shots, thanked him and went on.
I was sort of amazed at my luck. Not only did I see this guy, but he let me take a photo and he posed his rooster! The next day in the park, I saw him there posing for photos and charging tourists, and it all made sense. I guess I was lucky to catch him at his house, off duty, and get a freebie.
GET AWAY cute dog!
This photo almost didn’t happen. I was on the Gustavus beach at sunset when the sun broke through the clouds and sent this incredible light across the landscape. I knew I only had a few minutes before it was gone. As I hurried towards this patch of fireweed, a small dog ran up to me, wanting to play. The owner called after him, but he refused to stop following me as I ran towards the light. Finally, the owner shouted ahead to me, asking me to wait so she could come get him. This was extremely annoying. Although the dog was cute, I knew I was loosing the shot.
Liberated from the dog, I set up my tripod and got off about five shots before the sun went behind the mountains and the magic was lost. All the photos after the sun went down were flat by comparison. The rays of light perfectly illuminated the flowers. This was probably my prettiest photo of the year.
Braving 2nd degree burns for my art
Guanajuato is an extremely festive place. On this night, a random Thursday, there were mariachis in the park, street parties known as callejoneadas, and fire dancers parading down the cobblestone streets. When we first saw this performance, we were stuck behind the drummers so I squeezed my way past the onlookers and dodged fireballs to get ahead of the procession.
I got several good photos (and a lot more blurry snaps), but this one is my favorite because of the girl in yellow, framed by the two fire dancers.
Guns and Roses, Dude
I saw this photogenic man duck into the newsstand and I knew that when he emerged, I could get a candid shot. To my surprise and delight, he emerged with a cigarette in his mouth. It was a simple case of being in the right place at the right time and anticipating the shot. And being a stalker. That helped too.
Drawing the ire of 500 Mexicans for the perfect shot
I had been on the plaza near the front row and I was getting some interesting shots that way, but I wanted to get an overview of the fiesta. There were bleachers that offered a great vantage, but they were packed full of people. Even though I knew I’d have to navigate a sea of humans, I decided to go up the steps.
I worked my way to the top and tried to be as nice as possible, but I still had to squeeze past sweaty humans and I think I stepped on one child and knocked over at least one elderly man. I was one of the only gringoes at the fiesta and I didn’t want to annoy anyone. I failed.
After the balloon took flight, I aimed my camera at the people around me which may have been more interesting, especially if you don’t know the context.
So, there you have it, the story behind the megapixels. To see my 50 favorite photos of 2015, click here.
Do you have a story about your famous photos of last year? I’d like to hear it in the comments.