Notes from a talk by Keith Didcock on Serendipity and Photography at Stills for the DCC.

Serendipity was coined by Horace Walpole in 1754. In a letter he wrote to a friend Walpole explained an unexpected discovery he had made by reference to a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. The princes, he told his correspondent, were “always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of”.

Robert Frank
Trolley, The Americans 1958
Only 2 frames on the contact sheet, one blown out of another combination of people on the trolley car, the version chosen for the book is the only image from the roll that shows the racial divisions neatly segmented by the trolly car window frames.
(Eric Kim – very interesting site on Street Photography)

“Nothing in art should look like an accident.” >Edgar Degas

Howard Hodgkin
Disturbed Night 2013-14

Some photography leaves nothing to chance –
Hannah Starkey
The Dentist

( Also mentioned Thomas Demand )

Gregory Crewdson
Beneath the Roses 2004

While some photography involves happen-stance –
Garry Winogrand
White Sands National Monument 1964

Lee Friedlander
New York City 1966
(Slideshow) (Self Portraits)
Philadelphia 1965

Some situations are not what they appear –
Joel Sternfeld
McLean, Virginia; December 1978

Thomas Hoepker
Brooklyn, New York, 9/11 2001

And some have sagacity – knowledge and practice of focus and shutter speed – with a hint of luck thrown in –

– Focus
Norman Parkinson
After Van Dongen, Vogue 1959
(The Corn Poppy,1919, Kees Van Dongen)

Hiroshi Sugimoto
Chrysler Building, 1997.
Marina City, 2001.

– Motion
Ernst Haas
Motion Runners, Caribbean 1958

Eadweard Muybridge
Horse in Motion, 1886

Étienne-Jules Marey
Saut à pieds joints en détente à la verticale – 1884
Saut à la perche, 1890
Fusil de Marey

– An effect but an unknown one
Stephen Gill
Best Before End