Mark_H PRO 4:41am, 31 October 2007
In the street photography class I took over the summer, one of the things we did was write about shots we missed. We described what we saw and what attracted us, and why we missed the shot. It was interesting to read other's accounts.

Often times it's "didn't have my camera out/just put it away/didn't have it ready". Sometimes it's "didn't have the nerve". Sometimes it's "the moment only lasted a moment.

What shot did you miss?
Mark_H PRO 10 years ago
Mine from the class:

I brought my camera along one day so I could take some pictures downtown on my way to work. I had extra time between buses, so I took some wide angle interior shots of the Grand Central Arcade in Pioneer Square.

Once I was done shooting the Grand Central I was about out of time so I put my camera back into my pack and started walking to my next bus stop. On the way, at a corner across the street from me near the Union Gospel Mission, I saw a guy I really wanted to photograph.

He was standing on the corner. He was a big guy, stocky, maybe Asian or of Pacific Islander heritage. He had on a pair of ridiculously huge red satin shorts that went down to about mid shin, and an equally garish sports tee or tank. Somewhere in there were dragons emblazoned in black.

He was carrying a suitcase and was getting ready to cross the street towards me, so I didn’t have time enough to get my camera out. Before he crossed the street he suddenly picked up his suitcase and swung it round over his head a few times. It reminded me of the Samsonite commercials with the gorilla.

Dang I’m sorry I missed that shot. I had put my camera away too soon.
flat5 Posted 10 years ago. Edited by flat5 (member) 10 years ago
i have this one shot that didn't get away but i fully blew the exposure on.. i was shooting in shade and was set for that but didn't change it when i walked into the sun.. the picture ended up being almost totally white..

i've actually done this a few times but this one instance was a big mistake.. it was one of those moments style pictures that probably would have turned out pretty good.. i'll see if i can find it tomorrow and post it..
Chiubacca. Posted 10 years ago. Edited by Chiubacca. (member) 10 years ago
There are 3 shots that I missed that I still haunts me.

The most recent was on a subway one afternoon in NY. There were two other people on this mostly empty cart, one on my side of the train on a seat facing away from me to my right and a very attractive woman with long crossed legs to his left facing his side of the train... he was continually staring at her but she was so focused on what she was reading she didnt notice. The window across from me caught his reflection staring at her... I instantly envisioned the shot of this beautiful woman on the right of the scene with a man reflected in the window to her right staring at her but by the time I noticed this we were already at the next station before I could pull out my camera and I missed my chance because a lot more people got on the train and sat in what would have been my shot.

The 2nd one is of a protest in NYC by City Hall a man jumped on a light post and onto a crosswalk light and was over the crowd pumping his fists and yelling... I was soo intrigued by the person that I forgot about the camera in my bag and by the time I came to my senses the police got him down.

And the one that I really kick myself for missing is of a man carrying two dead pigs in the middle a crowded mini china town'ish street in Brooklyn. I saw him walk by while I was in a restaurant and go down some stairs of the restaurant I was in with a dead pig over his shoulder (these stairs are outside and they lead to the basement I think or the kitchen). I thought wow it would be so cool to get a shot of him walking in the streets with a pig over his shoulder but didnt think it was going to happen.

When I got my food and started walking to the subway station I saw him well ahead of me with two pigs over his shoulder this time and I grabbed my camera and started walking as fast as I could without spilling my food but that combined with a crowded street of slow moving people I could not get around people fast enough to get a clear shot of him by the time I had a somewhat clear shot he started walking down some stairs to another restaurant’s basement and out of view... I was so pissed I missed that opportunity I actually said out loud "FUCKING STUPID SLOW ASS PEOPLE GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY".

(those three shots could have been the best shots in my stream or the ones I was most proud of)
wu5mike 10 years ago
I had a composition in mind at a bus stop. There was a glass divider with seats on either side. Coincidentally there was black guy sitting on the side I was on, dressed in a white jacket and pants, and opposite of him (facing away) was a white guy dressed similarly but in black.

I missed it because it would have been way too obvious since the guy on my side was looking past me.
martinnicholls 10 years ago
MDM's been doing something similar.

Me, I see lovely shots every day while cycling to work. I've taken to carrying an XA in my pocket so I can try to catch some of them as I fly by...
FiveAshes Posted 10 years ago. Edited by FiveAshes (member) 10 years ago
This is a really interesting thread.

I have this permanent fantasy/daydream that I can't shake-off. As I walk along, I imagine that I can blink my eyes to take a shot. (Do I sound crazy?)

I am patiently waiting for the day that I can extract images from my brain/memory into digital media. I only have a camera phone so my street photography is really lame and I am waiting for a new camera. In the meantime I am so filled with inspiration by the things I see that I have this little fantasy to keep me going :)
faust0matic 10 years ago
The shot I want is always the one I see right after packing it in or as soon as I put my helmet on and start riding away. The one that frustrates me the most though was a few months ago. I was just screwing around shooting near the Port of Everett and this crazy drunk guy comes running up from the bar and starts talking a mile a minute about nukes on all the boats in the port. This quickly degenerated to him explaining how he was a living nuclear bomb and he could destroy the world by thinking about it. Genuine tinfoil hat wearing crazy person. I had my camera in my hands and I REALLY wanted to shoot one of him, but I figured he'd go ape shit on me for trying to sneak a shot. It just wasn't worth breaking my camera for it.
Dr Karanka 10 years ago
I forget about these things. I remember being out at night shooting with Maciej and quite hungry. I went for chips with curry (or kebab) and he said: "man, you're going to miss all the shots!". I replied: "there are no pictures while I eat". Mainly two reasons to not shoot: there is a very brief action or configuration that's gone by when I run to the scene or I think that a moment is too simple and a waste of film and then I think that -fuck- I should have shot it anyhow.
just tiff shaw 10 years ago
Too many to count, sadly. :^(

I often don't have time to walk around shooting. I'm usually busy with work during my lunch break, and I drive to work so my walk is only a block away. This REALLY sucks, as I work downtown in chicago and there's always something to see. I generally pass up on the homeless guy/street performer/guy in business suit shots now though, so I have to really search to find something. Often I'll go to the park when I have time, which seems almost ridiculous considering the amazing backdrops of all the buildings in chicago. But I feel like they've all been done before, so I generally pass up on those too.

Anyway, one shot that I missed and has been bugging me for months. I was downtown, it was spring and trees were blossoming. Sun was setting. I see a woman walking across the street in front of me in this beautiful asian inspired dress with a parasol. She was beautiful. There was another woman, dress plainly, following her with a camera. They were walking from the park with flowering trees into the city with all the buildings. Unfortunately, I was driving and my camera was in the back seat of the car. *cries*

Flat5, I have had that exposure thing happen to me too. Its really a pain because when I'm downtown the buildings cast a LOT of shadows, but they stop abruptly on Michigan Avenue and suddenly theres flooding light. I saw a woman taking a photo of her boyfriend on a bridge, and on a whim I stopped to photograph her. Just as I clicked the shutter, she turned right towards me and smiled. Unfortunately it was terribly overexposed. I couldn't even fix it in photoshop. :^(

I am planning on moving away from the urban landscape thing though. I live in a stereotypical suburb of chicago in northwest indiana. I really want to start shooting there, 'cause I think its under-represented within the genre.
WatermelonSugar PRO 10 years ago
theres one that hurts my heart still (and probably always will)
i was walking around on my lunch in downtown SD, prob over a year ago.
a old black man in a super lovely grey suit and hat sitting on an electrical box (feet dangling) in front of a brick building, eating a vanilla ice cream cone. It was the sweetest thing i had seen in a while and i could still shoot myself that i didnt have my camera.
Cyclops Optic PRO Posted 10 years ago. Edited by Cyclops Optic (member) 10 years ago
Stonehenge. 1983.
Hippies and Neo-Druids had taken over the Stones.
LSD was quite abundant and amply dispensed.
At the close of the day, the police forced everyone out.
I was across the road in a far field photographing the hundreds of people in the forground with the Stones distant.
I notice the crowd parting as someone or something was passing through it.
I placed myself so that when 'the parting' came to me I'd be ready to fire the shutter.
And there the curtain of bodies pull aside...
And directly at me comes a young nude man completely stoned,
and... with cock in hand masturbating.
Totally oblivious to those around him.
What a great phuqing photo!
Naked man with erection in hand with Stonehenge erections in the background and I...
I guess it was a homophobic reaction, but I couldn't take the picture.
Man, I was there.
Front row seat.
Great photo,
and I blew it.
just tiff shaw 10 years ago
LOL, thats hilarious Jack!
adsmith1971 PRO 10 years ago
Last weekend, I saw a guy crossing a busy city street on a red light with not a care in the world, slow as molasses and a line of cars about 10 deep screaming at him. He was dressed in classic 60's old man regalia, with suitcase and huge thick black rimmed glasses.

Camera was in the bag and I was pushing a stroller.
Dr Karanka 10 years ago
Strollers. Hum. Can you attach a tripod to them?
erik neufurth PRO 10 years ago
hum? tripods are for the ones with tremblng hands! i´d like to second fiveashes, there are too many.sometimes even hard to memorize.
BioMaxPhotos 10 years ago
There are so many that I long ago adopted Winogrand's philosophy: there are no pictures when I... etc. Besides, reading Cyclops' anecdote, I can't remember anything like that, so I must conclude that indeed I haven't missed any truly good photograph.
marisa zuk [deleted] 10 years ago
when i went to guatemela this summer my camera broke on the third day of my trip. i practically had anxiety attacks because there were so many things i didn't get to shoot. so i intend to go back again this summer, even though it won't be the same. but it would ease my conscience
Dr Karanka 10 years ago
@erik: yeah, but if you fancy shooting velvia in medium format for slow shutter speeds... maybe that's a reason to have children...
adsmith1971 PRO 10 years ago
You can attach a tripod or even tuck a large format camera underneath if you have one of them there SUV strollers (as I have). It gets hard stearing though.

I see shots all the time constantly. When you put a camera to face though, that's the hard part.
eight double 10 years ago
i have always been haunted by this one shot that i missed. this was the early mid 90's and i would many times walk around with a nikon F3. but i decided to walk and get a sandwich and leave it at home. anyway, there was an extremely old blind white woman arm in arm with an old, but not as old black woman. they were standing at a bus stop. the older white woman was pale and fragile and the black woman was darker and had a look of weathered strength, one of those looks that hints to compassion and dignity all at once.

it was winter overcast, but i swear as i walked by there was a cloud break and the light lit them up, it was incredible. i was instantly in full regret mode, for not having a camera with me.

i think about that shot often, maybe my mind has made it better than it was, but i sure remember being blown away by how good it looked.
Indigowaters 10 years ago
Ok. I'm going to post mine and then go back up and read for fear I'll forget something:

I was at the carnival this weekend and saw a game attendant placing a cowboy hat on a little kid for his dad winning something. I was close enough to get a shot in all of their faces but was walking with someone (my decoy) and didn't want the parent to freak out. I'm taking photography right now where the assignment is "Decisive Moment". I caught some good ones today on the street near a Salvation Army and a church. But I think I'll have that image burned in my mind forever.

P.S. I did get a straight-on shot of the game attendant with what I think might be some nice light and shadow. If I remember, I'll post it here later.
benroberts PRO 10 years ago
rene buree and carl de keyzer taking an autoportrait of themselves underneath a 'magnum 60th birthday poster' with a leica M7, near london bridge tube station a couple of weeks ago...

i was spitting as i fumbled in my backpack for my xa... why oh why was it in my backpack... idiot....
Gregory Pappas 10 years ago
I was walking down a dirt road in Semuc Champey, Guatemala a few years ago with a friend. A friend and I were on our way to the park. Semuc Champey is a series of dirt roads peppered with little tin shacks usually 25 feet off the path. No electricity, no running water for miles. It's very primative. As my friend and I were walking I looked over to see a woman dressed in full, bright red Guatemalan drab leaning against the weathered broken wooden door frame of her shack. Just the contrast there was stunning. In addition she had a very passive expression on her face, almost in a strong daze. She didn't even flinch as we walked past. I just stared at her as we walked by, she never glanced at us once, and the whole time the camera was in my hand. I don't know why I didn't snap off a few shots but i still regret it two years later.
Jim O'Connell 10 years ago
There's so much more to a good picture than a good subject in an interesting circumstance that it's not worth worrying about missing what they call here in Japan a "Shutter Chance - シャッターチャンス". (A term that always make me cringe.)

Adolph Hitler could ride by on a unicycle, naked but for a sombrero, but if you're not in the right place, with the right light, an interesting angle and no unfortunate distracting elements, it's likely to be a crap shot.

To make a strong, significant photo, you're at the mercy of your muse.
If you've treated her well, respected and fascinated her with your ideas and vision, you'll be rewarded with shots that are simply magical.
It won't be a matter of "getting" or "not getting" an opportunistic shot, it will be a case of everything falling into place, just as the heavens open up and a beam of perfect light streams down.

Muses are fickle creatures though—they'll abandon you at the drop of a hat, or come rushing back when you least expect. It's a roller coaster that, while it often lifts you to dizzying, spectacular heights, ultimately leaves you standing weak and nauseous on the sidewalk.

Of course, the idea of a "muse" is mythological, but it's a mythology that has persisted for thousands of years and like most persistent mythologies, it's workable in practice, even though it's got no basis in science as we understand it.

If you want to take fascinating pictures, be a fascinating person. Do interesting things and you will make interesting photos. Take honest photos and people will connect with them. Fortes fortuna adiuvat, after all.

(Oh—Take your camera out of your bag and have it ready, or leave the damn thing home.
Having a camera in the bottom of your bag is insulting to your muse and she will punish you with disappointment.
It's like dragging your girlfriend around for an afternoon and ignoring her the whole time. It's not going to go over well.)
Jim O'Connell 10 years ago
Arcady Genkin 10 years ago
I really don't regret the "missed great shots": I find camera-less mental photography just as enjoyable as the real thing, and, besides, I think that the missed shots in our memory look a lot better than the could have in reality, because the mind is a lot more cooperative than the lens, film, light, etc. :) Here's one of my experiences.

Walking just before sunset one day, I saw a woman in her 50s smoking in a plastic chair at a lawn table, with a rather shabby building behind her. She had a very bored air, and in the chair to her right sat a *huge* old teddy bear. On the table in front of the teddy bear was an open newspaper, which, probably, the woman read and threw away from herself. There was, at the same time, a great sense of harmony and absurd about the scene.

The light was hitting at a low angle from just behind the building, emphasizing the cigarette smoke, the woman's hair, and the teddy bear's fur against the dark background of the neighboring building, and leaving enough shadow for the photographer to hide to avoid the flares. My camera was out, lens cap off, and had b&w film in it, but I was in a hurry to get somewhere, and my mental state was very far from photography. I missed a step, absorbed the scene, but moved on.
scribeoflight [deleted] 10 years ago
Jim, yes. To it all. Excellent comment.

And about the camera... Absolutely, people. No more comments, please, about cameras being in bags or at home. Even if you do it, don't admit to it... If it is on your person, it should be in your hand.
WinstonG 10 years ago
Arundel England - Theres the remnants of an old castle near the the river - very picturesque. But on this occasion there was a large gang of teenagers all over it - doing what teenagers do. (Chilling out ?) I was struck with the contrast with old and fallen down and the future. Several attempts to get a good shot failed as the teens moved away each time I brought the camera up. After several minutes I was spotted (i thought for the first time). Three fit young men walked towards me and I was nervous. Then one said "We are ever so sorry for spoiling your pictures". They had seen me and were trying to get out of the way of a 'tourist' taking pics of the ruins:)
MichaelJClark 10 years ago
Yes onetime i went into the country up to this water dam. The sun was just setting and i had my old pentax analog camera. At the time the photos i was taking seemed like the best i had done in years. But unfortunately only in the car on the way back did i realize the film wasn't in properly... oh i was so sad :'( but i ever made the mistake again.
Dr Karanka 10 years ago
@Winston1944: next time get a 2l bottle of Strongbow and join in, I assure you you'll have an interesting experience
WinstonG 10 years ago
Sound advice
WinstonG Posted 10 years ago. Edited by WinstonG (member) 10 years ago
But then my horizons wouldn't be straight and I'd probably have trees growing out of heads - if i got the heads in at all
Keegan Bursaw 10 years ago
The one I regret the most was a few weeks ago. I was bussing it to work 45 minutes away in Richmond BC from Kits and I saw a white women driving a taxi with 2 indian men in the back. It really appealed to me since it's always the other way around and I've never seen it before.
Dr Karanka 10 years ago
Last night I was in this pub in Cardiff. I walked past a table and at the very same time this middle aged woman in a small miniskirt and revealing underwear lifted her leg on top of the shoulder of a big black guy she was sitting with and scratched his ear. I thought that it was a pity that I didn't shoot, but maybe I wouldn't be here to write this today.
scribeoflight [deleted] 10 years ago
Ah, Joni - you should have tried that. Bet it would have looked sweeet. Explain later - tell them you're a student.
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