I’m a firm believer in the happy accident. But I don’t trust it.
Sometimes things just come together. The elements just coalesce spontaneously and organically and something momentarily wonderful happens. It doesn’t even matter what those elements are–the ingredients of a seafood gumbo, the arrangement of a flock of birds in flight, a long lightly floating pass from Megan Rapinoe to Abby Wambach in the 122nd minute of a World Cup match. Doesn’t matter what it is; what matters is that it’s witnessed.
In this case, the witness was a machine. My camera.
A few days ago I was at the library and removed the camera from my bag in order to reach something else. I noticed the lens cap had come off, so I set the camera on the table so I could search the bottom of the bag for the cap. When I set it on the table I accidentally hit the shutter release. I didn’t even know the camera was turned on.
I heard the snap of the shutter, but didn’t even bother to chimp the photo. I just located the lens cap, replaced it on the lens, turned the camera off, and put it back in the bag. It wasn’t until later, after shooting some other photos, that I saw this photograph.
It’s not a great photo, although I think it’s an interesting one. I had to straighten it out somewhat in Photoshop (the horizon line was about ten degrees off-true. I didn’t even notice the man in the yellow shirt reading until I decided to process the photo. This was a happy accident piled on a happy accident.