There are a lot of factors that go into making a good image great, and one of those is mastering the art of timing. Snapping a picture at a specific point in time can capture the fleeting moments that would normally go unnoticed. Sometimes these striking visuals are the result of expert precision, but they can also happen completely by chance.
Most photographers have an intended visual in mind when they hit the shutter button, but there are flukes that can create an image beyond imagination. Whether a well-timed photo ends up being visually fascinating, coincidental, or just hilarious, they are a rare feat and deserve to be celebrated.
Here are 24 pictures that were taken at the perfect time.
1. British photographer Dr. Alex Tattersall managed to capture this incredible shot of Indian mackerel in the Red Sea swimming towards the camera with their mouths wide open. Underwater photography is tricky enough as it is, but these silverfish are almost completely translucent until they get up close and move through the water swiftly, which makes this horror movie-like still quite an impressive accomplishment.
2. There are many resorts that prove that trained dolphins can be quite the complaint models, but this action shot almost makes it look like this man is casually redirecting a mid-flight dolphin with one hand. While these two may have managed to get some sort of routine down prior to the shot, there’s no denying that capturing this split second would be incredibly difficult for any photographer
3. There’s a lot of pressure for wedding photographers to make sure that they capture the staple moments of the couple’s big day. While a storm on your wedding might not be considered good luck, this photographer certainly got lucky by capturing the exact moment lightning struck during their newlywed shoot.
4. Now this is a shot you really couldn’t plan even if you tried. Normally, this giant pool water fountain would make it difficult to focus on the kids playing within it, but this photographer managed to take a picture in a moment where the falling water coincidentally made a frame around the little girl’s face.
5. Photographing a wave is really all about timing, but this striking shot is much more difficult to capture. This photographer managed to snap the mere seconds before a laminar fluid flow crashed into a turbulent one, which resulted in a spectacularly translucent visual that looks like something out of Moana.
6. These two strangers may just be passing by one another, but the timing of this picture caught a chance moment where their shadows look like they are leaning in for a kiss. To top it off, the dog in the photo appears to be looking directly at the unintentional silhouette romance.
7. The shot of the mid-air baby would be an impressive feat on its own, but the fact that a stork is flying overhead in the exact same moment makes this picture wildly coincidental. While all photos may tell a story, it’s certainly rare that one naturally ends up appearing to solidify German folklore.
8. It’s no easy task to capture the fraction of a second in which a bubble bursts, but this photographer was lucky enough to snap this giant bubble mid-pop. Making this fleeting moment even more special, the picture also shows the tiny instigator behind the sudsy explosion and her priceless expression.
9. Taking a picture of anyone falling while water skiing is bound to be a worthwhile photo, but the chance timing of this snap almost feels like it was planned. Rarely is a water-skier so composed and photo-ready before becoming submerged, and somehow, the picture managed to be taken in the mere milliseconds before his fall disrupts his mirroring reflection in the water below.
10. To be able to take a picture during the split second lightning strikes or a firework explodes takes some serious skill, but to capture both happening simultaneously? Now that’s complete luck. You can only imagine just how thrilled this photographer must have been when they discovered they managed to snap this extraordinary coincidence.
11. Attempting to get a picture of the water mid-splash over this beached rock is already incredibly difficult to time. However, this photographer not only managed to capture the water strikingly encompassing the rock, they just so happened to catch the sea foam resembling the rock formation in the background.
12. Anyone who has ever been to a butterfly conservatory knows that these fluttering insects are not easy to get on camera. However, this photographer not only managed to snap a picture of this butterfly’s intricate wing design, but also the chance placement of its landing, which makes this joyful little boy like he has one googly eye.
13. Whoever took this picture somehow managed to capture the exact moment before this formal event got much less formal. One can only imagine that these smiling faces were quick to change expression after this guy’s not-so-suave drink lift doused them with whatever clear alcohol contributed to this move of poor judgment.
14. We all may be aware of what happens when you mix Mentos and diet coke, but the fun is in doing it yourself. This kid clearly underestimated the future eruption about to take place, but the photographer ended up capturing a hilarious moment that will sure to be a family book favorite.
15. This incredibly timed picture makes it look as if this woman were just casually looking at a wall of water. However, getting lost in the beauty of this massive wave couldn’t have ended well for her. And unless this was taken with zoom, even the photographer would be lucky to make it out of the aftermath of this wave standing.
16. Most of the time, when you’re photographing a living subject, you want it to stay put so you can focus properly. However, this mid-jump snap ended up capturing something much more visually interesting. With the frog’s legs in focus and the rest of the body speeding out of frame, this picture looks like something out of a cartoon.
17. Sharks are not the easiest models to work with, but many photographers have been able to capture some incredible pictures of these apex predators in various ways. However, the timing of this rare photograph shows a haunting visual of the shark just before it breaks the surface of the water.
18. Underwater photography is no easy feat and due to the unpredictability of being submerged, the result rarely turns out as the photographer had mentally planned. However, this coincidental snap turned out hilariously due to the timing of this curious fish. These two probably couldn’t recreate this photo if they tried.
19. Monkeys make for some pretty unpredictable subjects when taking pictures, but this photographer managed to capture the exact moment this pervy primate hilariously snuck a glimpse under the skirt of this woman during one Marilyn Monroe-style gust of wind. Without this swift documentation, this comic gem of an instance might have gone without any recognition.
20. When you are trying to document living creatures in the wild, most of the time success comes down to straight luck. This photographer managed to get incredibly lucky with a shot that ended up becoming an unintentional optical illusion. At first glance, one might think they’re looking at some sort of bear-elephant hybrid.
21. Sometimes timing can present itself to you as it appears to have for this subway rider. You can just imagine the person who took this picture giggling to themselves once they saw this tiny hat line up perfectly with the man sitting across from them and then rushing to grab their phone.
22. There’s a very limited window of time where you can make it look like someone jumping in the water appears to be naturally floating on the surface, but this photographer managed to do it flawlessly. Without even a ripple from the inevitable splash to come, it really looks like this guy is magically posing on the water’s surface.
23. While it was certainly not the photographer’s intention, the timing of this photo made the fluke placement of this bonfire flame have some comic results. In reality, this dog may just be mid-gnaw on a backyard stick, but in this instant, it looks like it’s igniting the fire pit with dragon-like precision.
24. Rarely are bus advertisements so immersive. This chance combination of bad weather and perfect camera timing ended up making it look like this exhilarated water park couple was actually making a splash in reality. However, one would imagine that during weather like this, passersby aren’t overly inclined to hit up a water park.