The blog of photographer Kim Ayres

Happy Accidents - and Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres - Episode 12

This week's podcast was built around the idea of the "happy accident".

It's a familiar enough scenario for any photographer – you go into a photo shoot with a clear idea in mind, only for something completely unforeseen to happen and yet you end up with an entirely different image that is at least as exciting or satisfying.

Sometimes it happens because of an extra, unplanned element – like an animal wandering into the scene – that enhances the photo in a way you could never have predicted.

Sometimes the lighting set up didn't go as planned – perhaps one of the light sources failed – and the mood of the image has a complete turnaround. It is still captivating, but in totally different way.

Some businesses, are built around precision. If you are wanting a hospital, for example, the planning of layout and resources needs to be meticulous. Lives depend on the distance between one vital part and another. It would be no good having the ambulance drop-off point at the furthest distance from the emergency department.

But creativity and innovation very often happen when things go wrong. It's when we are trying something that fails that either we find new solutions, or we find new value in the unexpected outcome.

Unfortunately, a lot of the messages we absorb as we grow up revolve around the idea that failure is wrong, is bad, and will have unpleasant consequences.

If we do not supply exactly the right answer we will fail, and be labelled as a failure, and will not be allowed to access the shiny future open only to those who are perfect.

We are told the reason for this kind of instruction is so we will up our game and do our best. But in reality it makes us so fearful of getting it wrong, we become scared of trying anything new, and end up staying within our comfort zone, with what is familiar.

Sometimes when I am teaching photography, I will talk about how it is the success for which we get praise, but we learn from getting it wrong.

If a photo works first time, we don't always know why. But if it doesn't work, we have to do something else, and something else and something else again, until we find what we want. And that is the process of learning.

Getting it wrong is how we learn.

It is not something we should fear, but something we should embrace.

At least, when the consequences are slight.

Obviously if you're a lawyer, mechanic, or dentist, I don't want you learning at my expense.

But creativity happens and develops when we are in an environment and mindset that does not beat us up if things don't go to plan.

In this week's podcast I look at a few of my favourite photos that came about because of the happy accident, and how some of them I didn't even realise had potential until after the event. But they were all learning experiences.

0:00 - Introduction - what's coming up
1:53 - Background to the photo called "The Wedding Dress"
13:44 - Making the most of the "Happy Accident" in photography
35:12 - Critiquing images
1:15:45 - Coming up next week

If you've not done so already, please subscribe to my YouTube channel - – to help me build the numbers.

And, or course, if you would like to submit a photo for feedback, or just ask a photography related question, then do join my Understanding Photography with Kim Ayres Facebook group and I will put it into the following podcast:


Pat said...

That stunning photograph is pure Scarlett o' Hara. Love it!

Kim Ayres said...

Thanks Pat :)

Pat said...

Puerto Banus is in Spain. Do i get a prize?

Kim Ayres said...

Absolutely, Pat, but you'll have to get a webcam and do a video link with me to get it ;)

Pat said...

Good luck tonight. Saddle sore - I'll watch later in the week.

Kim Ayres said...

Thanks Pat :)

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