A lesson for Photographers

It is rare that I publicly rant about something, but I came across a comment by a professional photographer on Facebook which got me a little upset. I am not going to link to the comment or reveal other sources to identify the photographer, but rather give you my personal opinion on how I believe some professional photographers need to rethink how they approach their photography.

But first, the comment.

The comment was made on a photo of some friends enjoying themselves which someone posted to Facebook. The person who shot the photo is not a professional photographer, but they do own a decent dSLR camera. One of the comments (made by a professional photographer) on the photo said: “You really need to learn how to use that camera of yours. Learn to frame and get your camera serviced, there is dirt on the sensor.”

Perhaps the comment was meant as good advice, but that comment stuck with me and really got me thinking.

Why do we take photos?

The Dance

We, and I don’t mean just professional photographers, take photos to remember things. We record moments with our mobile phones, iPads, point and shoot cameras or fancy dSLR’s so we can remember those moments. Though we sometimes try to get good looking shots we sometimes just snap the shot to capture the moment and never really care what the quality is like or if the image is perfectly framed, focused or follows the rule of thirds. We want a picture of that moment, nothing more, nothing less.

Why do we hire a professional photographer?

When someone hires a professional photographer it is more often than not to capture memories and moments beautifully. People do not just want a stunning looking image, they want a memory of that moment so it can live on. Yes, there are times when a beautiful image alone is great to have, but the most looked at photos are those that bring back memories.

Weddings are a prime example of a moment, that one day in a person’s lifetime, that needs to be captured. Have you ever heard someone say: “My family got better pictures than my wedding photographer.” I am sure everyone has heard this comment before. Yet, when you look at the work of the photographer they hired you find great looking images. The problem is usually that the images look stiff, posed without life or character and do not capture any of those important moments. To see the “moment” captured in a photo, look at the picture and ask yourself if you can determine at what point in those people lives the image was taken.

The Moment

Seeing a wedding couple standing in a row with parents or groomsmen and brides to their sides tells you that the images was shot in a formal pose, stiff and unnatural. Though one or two of these shots are important as keepsakes, they could be augmented by shots of the group getting ready for the pose and/or the group breaking up as they leave the pose. Look at how situations develop. keep and eye on people and learn to see moments develop. Be ready to capture small things and do not only try to get those posed shots. One of my all time favorite photos, and also a favorite of the bride, is one where the groom was assisting his bride to remove some leaves which had gotten stuck to the bottom of her dress. The softness, tenderness, togetherness and feeling of the whole wedding day was captured in that one photo. Another is the image to the left where the bride and groom were waiting for the groomsmen and bridesmaids to gather for the formal shots and she just looked at her new husband and they shared a moment.

The lesson to Professional Photographers

You know how to frame a shot and you know how to set up your camera to capture light; now look for more and capture the moments. Even if your shot is not perfect, if the moment is there the shot makes itself.

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