ever get a lucky shot?


I do believe in luck…but I also believe that we largely make our own luck. You might get a great shot because you were lucky, standing in the right place at the right time to capture a moment. But some force put you in that place at that moment. Something also provoked your finger to press the shutter button, so I choose to believe there is always something more involved than just “pure luck”.

Despite this belief, I still call this donut photograph my “lucky shot”. Why is it called that? It was shot in a matter of minutes, no big deal, but it gets really great response. The reason it’s called the lucky shot is because I’ve tried to identify and duplicate certain qualities about it without success. So I simply tell people I just got lucky.

One Saturday morning my stylist friend, Kate, and I had scheduled a lifestyle portfolio shoot. She pulled some things together and we met at a coffee shop with a model who was going to be the coffee shop customer. We photographed for the better part of the morning, getting some really nice photos. To be honest, though, there was nothing special about them, we didn’t break any new ground. After a while we did our round of “thank you’s” and headed back to the studio with the photo equipment.

prophotolife coffee guyUpon arriving back at the studio, Kate mentioned she’d also bought some donuts and Styrofoam cups and thought we might try something with those, an idea for a low budget food shot. She had to run soon and I was a little burned out but professional courtesy kept us going. We wanted to see it through.

She pulled a couple of inexpensive powdered donuts out of a box and plopped them onto our shooting table . I grabbed a cheap household clamp light and drug it over, just to see what I was doing. The intention was to get a good composition then bring in the “real photo lights”. Something messy like this also requires little brushes and tweezers to move loose elements around but we hadn’t pulled those out yet.

So I framed up the shot, took an exposure and…there it was. Done. Sure, I pushed things around a bit to satisfy my curiosity, but we liked how the household bulb brought out the delicate texture. We liked how the sugar naturally fell onto the table. A few things added up to making this $0.50 donut look pretty darn tasty. After a few minutes we called it a day.

Now a 16” x 20” print of the donut hangs in our hallway and it’s the image people stop and look at and say, “wow, that donut looks good enough to eat!”. It draws more response than photographs of expensive, delicately plated dishes. Viewers look right past the highly produced room set shots. There’s something so simple and easy to relate to that it triggers a response and viewers always choose to say something. We’ve created studio promotions to try and explore the visual ideas of the donut further, shooting additional photos to accompany it, with no great success. And that’s why this one is called the “lucky shot”. Do you have a lucky shot story?