the Proto Photographer

Shoot from the hip … aim for the head


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[photo credit: Aaron Kaffen @]

Photography is filled with happy accidents. Even the most wizened of professionals, when reviewing their work, surely find elements that they never even noticed in-frame, but that add the kind of beauty that only comes when practice meets providence.

The trick is to find the balance between control and surrender that’s appropriate for the situation.

When shooting in-studio, the expectation is that the elements of the room are in your control. Even your model, alive or still, is relying on you for guidance, shape and purpose.

But now you’re in a dark bar. The colors on the walls are vibrant, but what lighting there is comes by way of TVs, string lights and a few 60-watt bulbs hanging from the ceiling. Your options are limited so you set your aperture small and your shutter-speed to ten seconds. The camera is set down on the top of the booth, pointing in the direction of the bar, and the shutter is released by the timer. You’ve done all that you know to do, given the circumstances.

These situations require accident to step in. The universe has to take control of all of the elements you can’t. Maybe it can get someone to stay still enough to be in focus. But probably not. Ten seconds is a very long time.