There’s a famous saying: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
Imagine this scenario: at midnight, a happy couple leads a conga line into their afterparty and and spontaneously decides to jump in the pool fully clothed. What’s the photographer to do? Jump in and risk his camera’s demise in the process?
That’s exactly what happened in this photo Terry took at a wedding afterparty at Flowerfield in St. James, Long Island.
All luck, right? Not so fast.
It’s easy to just assume that Terry was just in the right place at the right time—but truth is, there’s hours of preparation that went into getting ready for just this one shot.
Let’s take a step back from for a second and take a look at the preparation that went into it:
1. The couple mentioned to Terry that their afterparty was at an indoor pool adjacent to the reception hall. They told him: bring a bathing suit.
2. Terry knew an underwater photographer and rented a top-of-the-line underwater camera, lens, bracket, flashes, and cords from him.
3. After learning the ins and outs of the underwater camera, Terry did a test run in the pool at the Westside YMCA in New York.
4. Terry shared a sketch of the shoot’s details with his assistant—the sketch included the equipment needed as well as the max distance he could be from the subject. In his preparation, Terry realized that, due to the water acting like another lens, shooting underwater required a different approach from shooting normally.
5. Prior to the reception, he loaded a roll of Kodak Tri-X black and white film in the underwater camera and set up a bracket with a special underwater flash.
6. His assistant handled a second, slave flash—meaning, when Terry shot, his assistant’s flash would fire as well.
7. When the time came, Terry didn’t miss a beat. He used his regular camera to capture the wedding party doing a conga line and jumping into the pool. In a flash, he got out of his tux and into his bathing suit, threw on his mask, snorkel, and fins, grabbed the underwater camera, flash, and assistant to finish the job.
It’s this level of preparation that separates the good from the great.
Now, having it all laid out like this may take away from the mystique of the picture but it’s this level of preparation that allowed Terry to, with the very first shot on the underwater camera, capture that once-in-a-lifetime picture for the newly married couple.