Something I read today has me thinking about photography styles and techniques. Someone else felt like a good photographer creates moments rather than captures them. I strongly disagree. A good photographer can create a compelling image out of any scenario, but the best moments cannot be created.
My training and early professional experience was as a photojournalist. In case you’re not familiar with their code of ethics, photojournalists cannot influence their subject to create a more compelling image. Instead, they use a variety of creative devices to produce an image that can turn an otherwise mundane moment into something more visually appealing. They are also experts at anticipating when and action will occur and prepare so they capture that moment in the best way possible.
(I wanted so much to share images from my photojournalism portfolio here, but because most were work for hire as a newspaper staff photographer, I probably shouldn’t publish the images here for copyright reasons. So…here is a recent photo from my life that reminds me of the various “slice of life” feature photos of found moments that I captured as a photojournalist.)
Photojournalists do get to influence the moment when they create portraits and illustrations, and we learn those skills in addition to documentary photography. Every one of these approaches comes into play when covering something like a wedding. The innate ability to position oneself in the right place with the right lens and the right camera settings so when the subject gives that special, genuine look, a priceless image is captured. The ability to make compelling still lifes with rings, flowers, shoes, and other details of the day. The portraits of the bride and groom that include candid moments after receiving general direction that improves the composition of the image.
When I do portrait sessions, those photojournalism skills come into play again. I can direct the action a little more, but my favorite images are almost always the moments that occur more spontaneously while we are in our perfect photo position. I love to capture the personality of my subjects. You may or may not want a professional photo of your child sticking out his tongue at his brother, but it may be one of your (and my) favorite moments from the session!
Experience shooting sports and other fast-moving targets can be big help with kids who move fast!
I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this subject…stay tuned!