Air by I Nancy, on Flickr
During my workshop with Sam Abell, he used this phrase often: “Take the best available picture”. I think there were two messages here. His first message was not to miss the shot. Even with all your concentration and preparation at 110%, you can only control so much. If you get 90% of the image working, “take the best available picture”. Perhaps a better picture will emerge in a few minutes, but perhaps not.
His deeper message was not to be discouraged. This street-documentary work is hard. I think Sam’s standards are super-human high and it is exactly these standards that brought him his success and brilliance as a photographer. Somewhere along the way, however, he realized that if a photographer allow themselves be overwhelmed by these standards, they may never produce another photograph, ever. So he reminds his students, and perhaps himself, “take the best available picture”.
This picture is not perfect. I wish there was separation between the bottom of the skateboard and the people below. This could have been achieved if the people were not there. I wish the two people on the left looking on at the trick didn’t have palm trees behind them and were wearing more colorful clothing. I wish there were some more amazing light or color to the sky. But these things were not there. This was the best available picture and I’m glad to have taken it and learned from it.