How to Anticipate the Moment
What if you were able to predict the future? More specifically, what if you were able to predict the exact moment when your children moved with delight into the most perfect afternoon light to converge into that awesome moment when you were strategically ready with your camera? Not only would you be a better photographer, but you’d be a photography samurai (or something like that).
In all seriousness, if you really think about it, photography has so much to do with your ability to combine light, movement, expressions and movement into the perfect photographic moment. Unfortunately, anticipating that moment doesn’t always come naturally. With that in mind, today we’ll discuss how to better anticipate the moment.
Anticipating the moment involves imagining how a particular scene will play out in the near future. For example, you can expect that most wedding ceremonies will conclude with a kiss between the bride and groom. With these types of moments in mind, you must consider the position of the sun as it relates to your subjects, then work backwards to be in the right place at the right time.
But most of us are not wedding photographers; nor does our normal everyday life always provide us with predictability. Heck, for some of us, we can’t even predict when we’ll get our next shower.
Then, as if the absence of predictability wasn’t enough, we’re faced with an incredible temptation. The temptation to preview the last shot within seconds of pressing the shutter. Whether you’re checking for proper exposure or just overly excited to see what you caught; when you take your eyes away from the task at hand, you’re bound to miss what can only be described as the “money shot.”
Real, honest moments tend to follow what we think was the shot worth capturing. But, as we all know, as soon as we lower our camera or turn away to preview the last few shots; that’s when the magic happens.
You see, people naturally freeze themselves into awkwardness when they are being photographed. Even young children will look off in the distance while saying “cheese.”
How do we overcome this temptation?
Step 1: Keep Your Eyes Open
Easy enough, right? Did you ever play softball or have a child who is playing some form of baseball? What do the coaches always tell you? “Keep your eye on the ball!” The same thing applies here. While you’re looking through your viewfinder, pay attention to what your subject is doing. You’ll immediately be able to tell if you missed something and you can quickly reset if you’re paying attention.
Step 2: Anticipate the Moment
With practice, you’ll start to feel that moment when something great is about to happen. Keep your eyes open and start shooting. Then keep shooting even after you think the moment has happened. There’s a strong chance that an even bigger moment will happen after the first shot.
Step 3: Create a Moment
Sometimes, you have to create the environment for beautiful moments to happen. If you are photographing a family, you might suggest that they walk down a path, then walk back to you, then hug. If you’re photographing a couple, you might suggest that they lean in for a kiss or tell each other a joke. If you’re photographing children, you might make silly faces or noises to get some sort of reaction. Get creative, then wait for it. Given the right stage, almost anyone will perform. Just be ready with your trigger finger.
Step 4: Keep Shooting
Avoid hitting preview until you’re completely done shooting (or have some down time). Even then, realize that you’re probably going to miss something. It’s been our experience that some of the absolute best moments live in our memories, not in photographs. It’s going to happen so don’t worry too much over missing the shot. Instead, keep shooting.
Practice makes perfect, and the more you shoot, the more you’ll be able to see the shot before it happens.
Step 5: Pay Attention to Your Settings
Even if you follow steps 1-4, if you don’t have the right camera settings, you’ll still be disappointed in your shots. When photographing people, be sure that you have plenty of light and that your shutter speed is at least 1/160 (at least 1/250 if you’re photographing young children).
With all of that said, the next time you pick up your camera and go for that brilliant photographic gold, be sure to imagine a greatness in your mind first, anticipate how the scene will play out, then work towards bringing that shot to life.
Photo Credit: Ashley Sisk
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