You know those moments, your walking along, that photographic eye just darting about. Taking it all in, mentally framing the world around you. You take a quick glance left. You sense something, but your not quite sure what it is. You shake it off, get impatient and decide to scurry along.

Then it happens.

The clouds part and a single ray of sunshine breaks through – a spotlight on a lone subject in a sea shadows. Amazing hair, a look of exhilaration in their face. Angelic harps begin to play. Celtic chants rise in crescendo. Two doves and a blackbird dive in tight symmetric formation parallel to the scene.

An amazing moment erupts from nowhere and where are you?

Well, you’ve already move away. Now your poorly positioned, a big ass barn of hair in your face, the back end of a bus now parked squarely between. The clouds carry on, the light disappears, the harps become car horns and the blackbird attacks one of the doves. Either way, the moment is gone. This happens all the time and we can huff and puff for a second at its passing, but this is one of those times you felt it, deep in your belly. Which makes it more painful. You just didn’t listen and full admittance, the same can be said of myself… often.

Not to digress, but that blackbird fight might be neat to catch. So to be fair, not all of that ended in tears.

Never the less, hindsight can be a bitch. You know you should have waited, should have pressed the button, should have took that alley… whatever it was, you simply “should have”.

That’s your gut. That wonderfully irritating “something,” nagging at you from deep down inside. Screaming at you to listen. So… stop shaking it off.

It’s easy to say… How do I know? Well, spend enough time in the street, practice-practice-practice, miss enough moments… eventually, you’ll get it. You’ll even begin enhancing that sense over time. It’s never 100%, nothing is. You’ll continue to miss it, like deja vu, but the question is, are you actively attempting to be aware?

Ride a motorcycle on I-880 in the Bay area and you get a sense for which drivers aren’t paying attention (most) and sensing one that may merge without warning. A similar concept for my fellow fans of two wheels.

Additionally to this point and worth considering, at all times

When your gut says back off… back off.

Remember this, not every picture is worth danger. Consider the photos you already missed whilst chimping that damn screen… you’ll get over it. It ain’t worth ignoring that survival instinct. Overcoming the fear is something entirely different. If you get a hint your subject may react aggressively to your snapping of their image, then just leave it be… or, at least know your exit plan.

When you poke that bear, you better be on your toes.

Berkeley, CA

Berkeley, CA

Now, I’ve marveled on amazing shots, taken in the face of this danger and it is a fantastic thing. I commend those willing enough to get those shots. But to be honest… I like me, a lot. I like my face. I like my gear. So, when a character comes into my frame and my gut says this one might be trouble, then I listen. It ain’t worth the hassle or the expense.

Again, for many, honing this sense is equal to the previous point. It can take some trial and error. Just don’t get too fidgety and pop off into traffic.

Anyway, above all, just know thyself and try to listen to your gut more.