Failure is an option
I knew I had two chances – slim and none – to get a good photo from the annual underwater pumpkin-carving contest put on by the Yakima Dive Club.
First, I am not a scuba diver (I prefer water in the form of snow). Second, I’ve never done any underwater photography and third, the water in the lake where the event took place is a murky brew of water, silt and duck and goose poop. Not a good combination of factors.
Still, I wanted to try even though photographic failure was almost assured.
Being unafraid to fail and a willingness to take chances should be important to all photographers.
Of course, there needs to be a back-up plan, a “CYA” photo, if a photo must be produced.
So, take the “CYA” photos, especially when your job is to produce photos. But it’s also important to take other photos. Photos which may be more creative or be less obvious. Photos which you, the photographer, enjoy.
Who knows? That creative photo, that less-obvious photo, may ultimately be the right one.
Luckily, there was no photo expected from my self-assigned underwater pumpkin-carving contest. If I got something, great. If not, well, no big deal. Still, I challenged myself to produce a publication-worthy photo.
As expected, photos of the actual carving were not possible. The water was just too murky and my rookie scuba skills prevented me from diving deeply enough. Using an unfamiliar camera in an underwater housing didn’t help matters, either.
Finding that the underwater photos weren’t working I figured I could photograph a diver surfacing with his carved pumpkin. Hardly as good as an underwater photo but still publication-worthy. We had never photographed this event before and having a photo from the event was good.
So even though I failed to get the photo I wanted – and the photo I wanted our readers and viewers to see – it was good for me to try. If you don’t try you’ll never succeed.