Monday, May 2, 2011

Photography Lesson V - Taking Advantage Of Every Moment

When setting out to take a picture, I usually try to visualize what I would like to capture. This is especially true when I am planning a professional shoot. However, plans change quickly, so it is important to not get too attached to what you had planned and instead look for moments to take take advantage of. A good way to accomplish this is to always have your camera ready. After you set up a shot and take a few photos, don't sit back and congratulate yourself. Keep your camera ready for a happy accident, should one occur. Here are a few examples...

This photo is part of Hayden's newborn shoot. I knew I wanted to get some naked photos of him, so I laid his little sleeping self out on a dark blanket on the couch. (The dark blanket was to create a uniform background, as well as to show off his pale newborn skin.) I had gotten a few shots, then he whimpered a little. His Daddy was sitting next to him and sort of absentmindedly reach down to soothe Hayden. At the same moment, Hayden reached his little hand up towards his Dad's. Since I had my camera ready I didn't have to say anything to his Dad about keeping still, or really even mention that I was taking a few shots. The result is that his hand looks relaxed and natural on Hayden and his parents know the photo wasn't staged. This is a true father-son moment caught on film. Having his father's hand in the photo also helped give a little perspective on Hayden's size. Perfection!

Here's another example of a happy accident. This photo of Javan and Karen in an open top bus in Washington, D.C. was only partially staged. I asked them to turn around to get a photo, which they did. However, between the time I asked them to turn around and the time I got my settings right (about 30 seconds), my cousin became too exhausted to hold his head up, poor baby. He said I was taking too long. the result is actually better than the shot I had planned. It captures Karen's sunny personality and easy smile as well as Javan's, well, Javan-ness. It also captures how tired we all were after getting up very early to go to the Rally to Restore Sanity, then standing for many hours at the rally.

Finally, here's the ultimate example of a happy accident. When I took this photo I had only owned my D5000 for about a week and was just photographing Arrow to see the quality of the photos it could take. Arrow was lying on the deck in the bright summer sun, just enjoying himself. It was warm so he was panting when he looked up at me. It just so happened that when I snapped the photo he closed his eyes against the sun and "smiled" a bit wider. Luck is what this shot is all about. Without good luck, my photography company wouldn't be called Smiling Dog Photography and Arrow wouldn't have a signature picture.

There's not much I can say that will help you improve your luck (but maybe go outside, turn around three times, and spit just to be sure). All I can do is help you recognize opportunities for great photos and not see them as getting in the way of your plans. I can also tell you not to over-plan and to have your camera ready to take advantage of every situation.

Here are a few more examples of a captured moment rather than a planned photo. There's not really anything to explain, they are just here to give you a few more ideas.

1 comments to blog for:

April said...

I can't thank you enough for continuing to share with us how to take better pictures. Another awesome lesson!