Stunning photography is something that the experts seem to produce with such ease. In reality, capturing that golden moment is a task which requires honing your technique and a talent for managing those in front of the camera. As the great Edward Steichen put it – “A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.”
With that in mind, let’s break down some of the best tips out there to maximise your chances of capturing those golden moments!
This article is a guest contribution by Daz Mack, Photographer Extraordinaire!
1. Master Your Camera
As with any expert in their field, photographers need to master the tools for the job and cameras have their fair share of complexity. Keeping your camera on ‘Auto’ simply won’t cut it to get the highest quality of photos, it needs be to a finer and more controlled art form.
Invest the time in learning the technicals of the photography art and take advantage of the functionality on offer across the different digital ranges. Learning the technicalities behind apertures, lighting and ISO ranges will give you the knowledge and guile to adapt to any golden opportunity in a way your camera’s automatic settings alone never will.
Amazing photography isn’t something you can create out of the box, it takes great effort to perfect your trade and find your own voice and style, so invest your time thoroughly and delve into the details of your camera to master all the tools of the trade.
2. Manage the Spectacle
Mastering your camera will undoubtedly be the easy part. A much harder task is learning to manage your subject(s) to engineer the perfect shot. This will vary greatly depending on your discipline; with a speciality such as wildlife photography, one which adversely requires as little influence from you as possible.
For common photography disciplines such as portrait or wedding, as the photographer you will need to conduct your audience to ensure those golden moment just keep on coming. Work to make your subject as relaxed as they can be, put them at ease and remember that you’re here to capture their natural moments. Decide where you would like your center of focus to be and direct your subject into it naturally to create the perfect combination of background and foreground.
Often the best photos are produced in a candid environment, so once at ease, dictate the environment to create natural behaviour. Remember, you’re the director of the show, so manage the spectacle in front of you to create those moments of magic.
3. Educate Yourself
Photography is an artform, not a science, so embrace its fluidity and variance by taking stock of how others work in the field. Many of the greatest photographers of all time worked underneath a mentor, with their own eventual styles influenced heavily by those around them.
Whether you are a complete beginner or a seasoned professional, the learning never ends so take all the opportunities to learn and grow from other photographers. A different technique, perspective or equipment setup may be the small thing you are missing when attempting to capture those truly special moments.
The photography world is an inviting one, and one which encourages collaboration and the sharing of ideas. Reach out to others, find local courses or workshops and embrace the community for support, guidance and growth.
4. Stay Focused
This tip isn’t simply a helpless photography pun, those golden moments don’t come around all that often, so you need to be patient and focused to ensure you capture them. The perfect shot can often be a split second in duration, so you need to be primed and ready to spot it at a moments notice.
Many landscape and wildlife photographers will spend hours at a certain location, waiting for just the right lighting, event or behaviours which can transform what we otherwise be a great photo, into an amazing one.
Photography is an art which can make time stand still, so what’s a little waiting around in comparison to capturing the perfect moment? Be patient, be still, but stay focused so when the time arises, you are primed and ready to catch it.
As we’ve seen, amazing photography requires the combination of technical knowledge, careful subject guidance and firm self-discipline; in isolation, these things all take time, in combination, they require zealous practice.
Becoming a photographer who captures those special moments doesn’t happen overnight, so take the time to really practice your craft. Enjoy the practicing process, the learning journey of becoming a photographer is one that allows you to grow and develop into your own style, one which makes you and your photographs unique.
Each shot you take requires a mental thought process which needs to be developed over time and only truly comes with experience – don’t be too hard on yourself, the practice will pay off and in no time at all, you’ll be ready to capture those golden moments.