Two Kinds of Pictures: The Power of Anticipation

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[from the BabyT Gallery]

Depending on who you ask, you may find as many kinds of pictures as there are humans. Much of my work, however, revolves around two: the organic (beautiful and rare moments that could pass in a breath) and the scripted (pictures that are actually planned and posed for).

You’d encounter countless ‘organic’ moments while shooting any event. The teardrop striding delicately down a bride’s cheek, a bolt of lightning smashing into a random target, the passion with which a singer delivers a moving rendition, a toddler having a moment of inspiration, a president’s brief salute…….. Totally natural and typifying everything we stand for as humans; not a list that could ever end. The emphasis here is on the ‘specialness’ of the moment. They give a kind of ‘life’ to the pictures that can be extremely hard to feign.

Because of those emotions, the viewer’s mind can almost ignore everything else. A bit of under-exposure, slight lack of sharpness or even below-par composition can easily lose consequence. Everything get’s scored eventually – but it’s usually ‘magic’ over precision in this category.

Enter the other world of the scripted (fashion, products, portraits, etc). Here, precision rules. You (and the subject, if human) have a fairly defined idea of what the final image should look be. You know how much lighting and contrast are required. You even get to choose the background and who should be in or around the frame. You essentially have full control. It’s then a case of how well you can replicate what’s on the mind.

In the real world, though, things are never quite as clear cut. Genres often dive into one another. You’re shooting portraits at an event – and very often have unscripted moments during a scripted session. The key lies in a healthy dose of anticipation. It’s great to have an idea of what comes next at any event you’re photographing. And, if it’s a scripted session, it helps to brace for a bit of the unexpected. Some of my favourite images have been of moments I never quite planned for.


Quick Tip: When shooting an event, always try to know the agenda ahead. It’s not cheating!

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