Sometimes when I frame an image, I know it’s a keeper. It can be the first in a series of shots, or the last, or in the middle. I feel it when the composition, color, shapes and story all come together at one precise moment. Other times, I think I’ve just wasted my time. I typically download those images into a file without even looking at the shots. Days or months pass and then, for no reason, I remember that particular day at the park or the beach or at an event, and open the file.


Because I function from logic, it makes no sense that I would spend three hours taking 250 images (my typical amount in an afternoon before I get distracted) of nothing interesting. If nothing clicked… what was I doing? That’s when a different kind of magic begins. I know there must be a secret hidden below the surface and I start to dig.


My first pass through, I glance at the thumbnails looking for several shots of the same scene from the same vantage point. What caught my eye to make me stand in the same place shooting the same scene.


From the similar thumbnails, I select the one with the least amount of clutter and open it up. Ah, a photo of a girl on a cell phone. Another grouping at the same location is of a bride and groom posing for pre-wedding photos. I notice that my two images are similar in that both foregrounds are of the secondary subject, with the primary subject, a bride and groom repeating their vows, in the background.


Then it all came back to me. The grounds of California’s State Capitol are always alive with tourists, locals and events. Parking spaces are at a premium. If I have my camera in the car and see an empty space, I usually pull in. This day, I was on my way home from shooting at the river. It was Saturday at 4:45pm, the changing of the guard aka wedding parties, which explains the empty parking space. A wedding was in progress in the Rose Garden and when I left 30 minutes later, five sets of bride and grooms, with their photographers and entourages had entered or left the scene.


Would I purposely have gone to Capitol Park to shoot a wedding? No. Are these good wedding photos? No. Did I capture images with the type of secondary subject oddities often seen in my photographs? Yes. The message here is… your subconscious knows better than to waste your time. File the ‘not an interesting photo shoot’ images away and return when you have an open mind. You’ll be surprised.