Photography by Chance

Posted by on August 5, 2011 at 4:01 pm.

Everyone preps for 12×12 differently, but have you ever considered not prepping at all? Here’s Valerie McTavish‘s take on how she would run the 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathon

Get the perfect shot. In one hour. And then do it eleven more times. It can be daunting to receive a clue and then come up with a plan for that quintessential shot. So, why not throw the plan out the window and leave that shot to chance.

Here’s the deal. When you get an idea in your head, you become focused on that concept. You might run out to the spot where you think you can get the shot. You might spend some time walking around the shot or you might spend a whole bunch of time setting up the shot, getting the lighting just right. And while it might be a great looking photo full of witty irony or whatever you were going for, it might be missing something; magic.

If you look back at images captured during the last two 12×12 Vancouver Photo Marathons – guaranteed the ones that will stand out are the ones that make you say, “wow, how’d they get that?” These shots are not staged. They are not pre-planned, they just happened. The one that comes to mind for me was from Aaron MacFarlane for the theme ‘Tie’ that captured a car and a person crossing a line on the road at exactly the same time. It’s perfectly serendipitous – I’d be surprised if that was staged. I find captured moments in many of the shots taken in last year’s marathon by Best Series runner-up Robert Fougere. And while I might not use the word ‘magic’ to describe his image of a dog doing his business, I have to say it was a clever and unexpected way to represent the theme ‘My Entry Number.’

Maybe you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like to leave things up to chance. Maybe you’re afraid that you might not complete the task in the time allotted or that the shot might not be perfect if you don’t have a plan. As one of the creators of Zufall (a tool that leaves adventure and travel to chance), I can assure you, something always comes up. The trick is to focus on the process or the journey, not on the end result. Be present in the moment, keep your eyes open and really look for that perfect picture to present itself. If you let go of the expectation of what that picture might look like and really focus on the theme, you’ll be amazed at the many creative ways that you can find the theme in the world around you.

Make no mistake, the marathon will still be a challenge, but if you throw away the plan and spend the day being aware of the beauty around you, you’ll be sure to not only have fun but get amazing shots that will make people wonder how you captured the magic. Happy Marathoning!

Valerie McTavish may not know where she’s going, but she always has fun getting there. One of the creators of the Zufall Adventures by Chance dice and the new mobile phone app (developed by Phil Wu, a 3-time 12×12 marathoner), she’s spent the last ten years finding adventure at the will of the dice.

You can follow her spontaneous randomness on twitter at @ZufallAdventure or read about her travels on the Zublog.

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