Photography is not only a way for me to make a living; it is also my passion. And there is no doubt that the passion came before the money. Indeed, without it, a professional career in photography would not even be possible.
I am one of those guys that carries his camera everywhere. Even in my own hometown I look like a tourist—and there are a lot of those here. All throughout Europe my wife grew increasingly irritated with my insistence on stopping everywhere to take a picture, a thousand pictures—this angel, this setting, OK now with one without anyone in it. But when we got back, I am proud to admit she was amazed with the results. Some of that had to do with ability, but a lot of it, as is almost always the case in photography, had to do with luck. Why do you think photographers take so many pictures? Of the same scene? The passion drives us, as does our truly unrelenting obsession to take a THE shot. And we are quite content scrolling through hundreds of our tepid shots to find that one hidden treasure that only a that rare combination of skill, light, and luck could have conspired to create.
In my professional photography world, this is not always a problem. I don’t need luck to take a good bottle shot in a studio. Vineyard or winery photography does often require the help of mother nature (in other words, a little luck) but what that really means is I need a propensity to get up early or stay up late to find the right light, but even that is under your control to a lesser or greater extent; if you have the time, you simply wait for better light or recompose the shot. The winery and the vineyards will be there tomorrow. But, when I really, really rely on those three components to come together is in my personal photography.
It is my humble opinion that all of those factors (or muses, or enemies, depending on the outcome of the shot) came together for the picture I am sharing with you tonight.
I was on a family vacation in New Orleans when the more adventurous of us (that would be ALL of us) decided to hit up Bourbon Street one night and do it right. And of course by doing it right I mean the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol and the occasional traditional exchange of beads for the ceremonial, um, well, anyway.
At some point in the evening and after much fun and libations, I needed to use the rest room. So I headed into a bar (there is no hope at all in remembering which one) and turned the corner (he—or was it a she?—said go down the hall and make a right) and found this sight waiting for me. It was there, but only for a fleeting moment. Here leg, the light, and the luck. The leg speaks for itself, as does the light, I think. But the luck? The luck was that I had my camera in my hand as I was about to put it back into my camera bag. AND the luck that I was still sober enough to raise the camera, compose, and shoot. I literally had a second, as she was walking right out of the lady’s room. I took a lot of pictures that night, many of which turned out OK, but this one remains my favorite. Thank you luck, and thank you light—you are ever the photographer’s elusive friends.
– Bryan Gray, Napa Valley Winery and Wine Bottle Photographer