John (my brother) and my mom came over for dinner on Labour Day; I took a couple of pictures, and finally got a good one of my mom. But I’ve been asked to speak lately on how I take pictures, because (apparently) some of them come out pretty well and people like them. So I’ve been reconsidering the types of pictures I take as well: each subject and audience and focus is a little bit different, and will change how I approach the shot.
For instance: my strength is in “candid” photos; for years (decades) I’ve taken pictures at events, where I’ve done my best to blend into the background and get a shot that reflects the happenings of the moment, telling a tale through facial expression or general activity that expresses the event… or at least my take on the event. Sometimes I can do this well: but it means watching the event through the lens of the camera, watching for interesting angles, always ready to snap a photo. I always joke that I take dozens (hundreds?) of pictures at these events, and then only the best get published: that was more expensive when I used film (even black & white), but going digital makes this much more manageable. The result can be great; but it takes concentration.
Still life or landscapes or family photos take a different kind of concentration. For these shots I have to “construct” the picture in a way that I’m totally not used to. For these shots, it’s not a matter of being quick to catch the subject at that unique moment when the picture says what I want: it’s a matter of taking time before pressing the shutter release, to build the picture that I want. My pictures from labour day, for instance: I didn’t notice the flash on mom’s glasses, nor the meringue slightly “pulled way” from the crust in the picture of Tim’s pie: both of which could be corrected quite easily. I even saw the meringue issue, and didn’t realize the effect on the picture till after the download (and after the pie was gone). I’ve got to learn to think differently about taking these kinds of pictures.
But still take plenty of photos: that principle remains the same.