Friday, October 12, 2012

Timing and Happenstance

Last night at the San Luis Obispo Camera Club, Bill Bouton told us an amazing story of timing and happenstance, with the underlying moral of:  Be Prepared!

A few weeks ago Bill bought himself a very expensive new camera lens and went out to see how it worked.  He tried one place but nothing of great interest showed up so …
… happenstance … he decided to go to Avila Bay, where he saw a bunch of pelicans diving.  He parked his car and took his camera to see what was happening and it turned out that a humpback whale was feeding at a "bait ball" at Port San Luis.  Bill took five shots and returned home, where he shared the photos with a friend, and … 
… happenstance … she posted the photos on a local area blog, and … 
… happenstance … the photos showed up on Yahoo News Front page … and then went viral.    
Soon Bill was getting calls from around the world … major newspapers, television, blogs … everyone wanted to use his photos … especially the one below, featuring the girl "in the little black number."  By the time it was over, his Flickr images had registered almost a million views.

Bill's moral about being prepared came because he was not prepared for the avalanche of calls he received and didn't know how to charge for the use of his images.  "If I had known how to charge, I probably could have made $20,000 in those few days,"  he stated.  "As it was, I paid for my new lens," he concluded with a grin.

It's hard to be prepared for lightning … but sometimes it happens.  Where could it happen in your life ... and how might you be prepared?

More of Bill Bouton's images can be seen at


  1. The acknowledgment of not knowing what to charge is one I've heard from so many photographers and other visual artists. We've talked a bit about the problem (and it is that) at my Art Salon. The related piece has to do with no giving away rights when allowing someone else to use what's yours.

    His picture, which I remember seeing, is marvelous. At the same time, it evokes in me a sensation of the whale being surrounded and trapped, and so leaves me unsettled. Such a magnificent creature.

  2. It is all in the timing of the moment,,, amazing shots.. I worried about the safety of the people. The comparison of size, thankfully, the scene ended with everyone in good health. Magnificent...
    Nice to know that people wanted to purchase the photos, and did not just take them.. honesty.

  3. Maureen ... for folks with this particular happenstance in their neighborhood, Bill suggested FotoQuote, a software package that helps photographers know what to charge.

    As for the whale, he stayed around for a few days, eating his fill and seemingly not minding the attention and then moved on. He thrilled a lot of folks in those few days.

  4. Maybe... the whale was feasting on the attention too?

    Amazing photos. Great lesson too.