Today students in my photojournalism class turned in their first assignment: three photographs from the coverage of an event. I asked for prints and contacts sheets so we’d have the tactile experience of holding the prints and viewing their shooting and editing process.

They put their desks in a circle and placed their prints on top of their desks. (We don’t have a long table or wall to display the photographs as I would prefer.) I asked them to circulate and look at each other’s images and be prepared to participate in a critique.

Quite a few students covered the homecoming football game. Others covered a Mr. and Miss Allegheny fundraiser for UNICEF and the campus’ famous annual “Wing Fest.” We talked about action shots, storytelling moments, behind-the-scences images. We discussed the strength of their compositions and how they might have improved the shot through cropping or shifting the angle or perspective while shooting.

At one point, near the end of class, one of the students mentioned that he wished he shot more. I asked him to explain.

He said he’d kept waiting for the perfect shot and ending up with only  a few images before it got too dark to keep shooting.

I told the student that he’d offered us a great insight, that I was happy that he’d had that level of self-awareness and observation. I suggested he shoot more on the next assignment, maybe 70 to 100 photos, the old-school equivalent of two or three rolls of film.

“Next time we have a photo assignment I am going to just shoot and not wait for a perfect shot,” he wrote me later in an email.

It got me thinking about life…about how often we wait for something to be perfect before we act. The right moment. The right day. The right man. The right woman. The right time to ask someone on a date. The right time to call someone and apologize. The right time to write. The right topic to write about. Writing the perfect blog.

And actually, because of my commitment to Tia to write a blog a day, I’m here after the opening of the Faculty and Alumni Exhibit at Allegheny College, sitting on the floor of my office, writing this blog at the end of a long day of teaching.

It’s not the perfect time or the perfect situation and it sure as heck is not going to be a perfect blog. And, it will be a whole lot better than if I’d waited and done nothing.

I think there’s something so beautiful and wise and worth hearing in the student’s comment.

“Next time I’m going to shoot and not wait for the perfect shot.”

You can miss a whole lot while you’re waiting for the perfect shot.

Take the shot.

Take a shot.

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