I start today with an old snapshot that isn’t very good, but it takes me right back to a moment when, by focusing on the wrong thing, I almost missed the point.
About ten years ago my family rented a big house at Pajaro Dunes for a long weekend. Sisters, husbands, kids . . . all of us. We were taking a pleasant walk on the beach when suddenly several dolphins began leaping out of the water not far off shore. We were all beside ourselves with excitement. Of course I had my camera, so I began snapping away, frantically trying to catch them mid-leap. Those were film days, but I didn’t need to see the prints to know that I was shooting frame after frame of empty ocean, just missing the dolphins each time. I gave up, turned around, and noticed what Uncle Doug was doing. He wasn’t focusing on the dolphins. He knew the real story was the wonder and joy on the faces of the five young cousins. I followed his lead and snapped this shot.
Last December I was asked to photograph the Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony when five local scouts from the same troop earned this rank.
Of course it was important to capture them together, and to record the action on stage.
So, don’t forget to turn around. There just might be a story there.
Tip: Turning around can be especially effective at sunset. Next time you are at the beach, instead of taking yet another shot of the lowering sun (yes, I know it’s beautiful), take a look back at what that golden light is doing to buildings on the shore or sand dunes or the faces of your loved ones. Those images might say “sunset” too, maybe even with more meaning.
If you have a special event coming up and you’d like to be sure someone is there to capture both the action and the reactions, let me know. I’d love to help.
Do you have a photo where the expression on the subject’s face brings you back to the moment? Use the comments to tell us the story!