Musings on luck’s role in getting a good shot

Principal  Kristine Bennett looks on as senior boys hug and say goodbye during the senior luncheon.

Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School Principal Kristine Bennett looks on as senior boys hug and say goodbye during the senior luncheon.

I have always thought that good photographers are lucky. Sometimes.

But in my later in life photo experiences, good photographers make their own good luck happen for them.

How is this?

Planning and scouting photo shoots beforehand. This would include knowing what the light will be, where the main subjects for the photos will be. Are they moving? Will they move left to right or vice versa? Will anyone or thing block your view at any point of the photo shoot? Another key point is what does the background look like?

A very good photo editor told me once a long time ago to compose photos from the background to the foreground. Visualize the background and see if your main subjects naturally fit in the frame.

How many times have you seen a nice photo made not so nice by having a tree limb, light pole, hot light spot, or someone or something moving through the image in the background? Study the backgrounds of where you will be photographing and move your camera and you into a position that these things will not affect your outcome. Then, frame your image from back to front. This can also affect the image content quality. A focused main subject with something related to it and somewhat out of focus in the background (using depth of field and aperture settings) can add depth and layers to any image.

I am including two images, neither one posed, but both scouted ahead of time so I was positioned to make the photo when the special moment happened. Both images are from the Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School graduation of the class of 2014. The event was held at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa.

I went two hours before the event and an hour before grads were to get ready. For the grad on stage jubilation photo, I had positioned my self in the orchestra pit and was standing on a chair to get a higher angle. This spot was selected after I went above the stage on different levels of the mezzanine, back stage, side stage and sitting in the audience. None was as good as the orchestra pit location. It provided me with stage access and if I turned around, away from the stage, parent and grad reaction photos could be made as the ceremony was concluding.

strazblogphoto1My favorite photo on this grad day would be in the category of a photographer not getting lucky, but one who makes his or her luck happen for them. I knew the graduates were going to line up behind the double doors that led them to the hallway that enters the auditorium. I knew something with the grads was going to work with the doors, but I wasn’t sure how it would present itself. Two grads sat on the steps just prior to entering the auditorium. The image is interesting by itself, but adds the mystique of two high school grads, going out into something unknown and a world of successes, failures, or whatevers….all behind the double doors they were about to pass through.

The second photo included here, is the pure joy of a graduate who just received his diploma. Going back to what I wrote about the backgrounds of photos, this image adds depth and strazblogphoto2even more emotion with the administrator reacting and smiling as he was watching the scene in front of him.

What I have written here can be applied to all levels of photography. A little planning goes a long way whether it is a high-end photo shoot or vacation, fun or family photos. The concept remains the same. Plan ahead, pre-visualize and compose your photos from the back to the front of the image.

Another helpful tip that was passed on to me and now I pass it on. Practice these suggestions on events that you can set up yourself. Pets, friends, a room in your home. The concept works for these as well as the important photos you will be taking.

This entry was posted in back story, Bill's favorites, graduation.