|© Melissa Milligan Photography|
You know, when I look at this photo I see a lot of things - a calm pond, trees, houses, and a kayaker. But I also see what could have been a missed opportunity.
This is Kelley's Pond, on Cape Cod. It's right down the street from where my family summered for over 50 years. When I took this photo it was early fall, and I was so pleased that the crowds had finally thinned out and I could get this photo with no people in it to "ruin" it.
As I was setting up my tripod and camera, I noticed a truck drive up, park, and a man in his late 40s step out and begin to remove his kayak from the truck's bed. "Oh no," I thought. "Just what I need. Someone to ruin my shot."
As he approached me to get to the pond, he started up a conversation. "Oh no," I thought again. "Just what I need. A talkative person who'll ruin my shot and waste my time."
I could not have been more wrong.
As it turned out, we had a wonderful conversation. He was a very interesting guy, and I was surprised to find out, knew my family - having chummed around with my brother when they both in their teens. He was devastated to learn of my brother's death not long before, and we shared some great memories and funny stories of him.
We talked for probably half an hour before wrapping up our conversation with something akin to "happy kayaking," and "happy shooting." And as he got in his kayak and started to paddle away, I grabbed this shot. I stayed for another hour or more so that I could get more shots without him in it, because I was still sure they'd be the 'picks'.
When I got the slides back (this was just before digital SLRs were becoming available), I set them up on my light table and looked through my loupe at each one. I was astonished to find that every one of them without the kayaker was nice, but was missing something. The ones with with the kayaker were much more interesting and practically jumped off the light table.
So now when I look at this photo, I still see a calm pond, trees, houses, and a kayaker. But I also see how very lucky I was that I and the kayaker happened to be at the same place at the same time.
Photography and life lesson learned: keep an open mind. You never know what will end up working out. It's often not what you imagine.