As a reportage / documentary wedding photographer, capturing important moments is really at the heart of the service I provide. You can take beautiful images, but if the moment isn’t captured then (I believe) it’s hard to make images that emotionally resonate.
These are my 5 tips for capturing the moment. I’d like to thank light.co cameras for suggesting the topic of this post.
1. Travel light
When I started out in wedding photography, I used to take everything and the kitchen sink. Big zoom lenses, tripods, monopods, flashguns, lighting modifiers.
The majority of the time nowadays I just carry one camera and a 35mm lens. I’ve even scaled back and started using fuji cameras to lighten the load and help blend in a bit more.
It means that I can move through a crowd easily and unnoticed. It also means that my energy levels remain high throughout the day and I have less trips to the chiropractor.
Using only one or two lenses also makes you think a lot more about what you’re capturing and how to capture it. With most of the options removed, you can live in the moment and capture it more effectively.
2. Focus on the moment
There are three elements to designing a photo. Light, composition and moment. But without the third a picture can never really sing. To me it’s the most important element.
You can never capture a moment after it’s happened. Often pulling the camera to your eye as it happens you’re too late. You need to think about how you capture moments – often shooting through them and finding the moment you need later in editing. I’m not a machine-gun shooter except when I have to be.
In the end, though, only experience and practice will help you aniticipate moments and be prepared for them when they happen.
3. Get in closer
“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough” – Robert Capa
Right from the start of the day, get in close. Get in the throng and make the viewer feel as if they’re there in the moment. Often the most intimate photos are where you would be able to reach out and touch your subject.
I find that when shooting from afar with a telephoto lens the photos can feel very voyeuristic – as if you’re watching people through a telescope. In close with a wider lens, all the angles become more dynamic, you can feel the energy and intimacy in the photo.
4. Light and Composition
And whilst you’re nailing capturing the moment – give the other elements some thought. The light and composition in a photograph can really make it sing. As with timing, this is something that needs a lot of practice. Just wander around the streets / your house, and try to find nice light, shapes that work together, colours that work together.
Someone once said to me that a great image makes your mind and heart – and it’s these compositional elements that excite your mind.
Top tip – I’ll often try to find the nice light and composition and wait for something to happen within it.
5. Put yourself in the picture
All the great photographers put their own personality into the picture. There’s so much that goes into selecting (curating) moments – your sense of humour, of style, of beauty. These will make the photos truly yours. The more moments you capture, the more you recognise the elements that are “you” – and you’ll start to play into that and making work that really resonates with people.