How to Ruin a Moment

I recently came across this great article on some of the challenges of wedding photography in a digital world and it got me thinking. I have never done wedding photography, but these issues carry over to many other types of photography. I thought I’d bounce of Corey Ann’s article and post a list of the way I’ve seen good shots go wrong.

  1. A great way to ruin a moment is to have too many cameras at once. The people being photographed don’t know where to look and, as Corey Ann says, there’s nothing I can do to combat another camera’s flash. That shot is pretty much doomed.
  2. Turn off your cell phone. If you really can’t turn it off, at least put it down. Don’t touch it for the entire shoot unless you have to.
  3. If you know your picture is being taken, relax. I’ll let you in on a secret: most of the people I know, including models, get nervous in front of a camera. Finding a way to get rid of those nerves will make your pictures look more natural. Take a deep breath – in for a count of four, hold for four, out for eight. Try imagining a friend or a loved one in the lens.
  4. Be yourself. It’s good life advice, but it’s also good portrait advice. If you want a picture of yourself to give to a loved one or commemorate a special event, you probably want that picture to look really nice, but you also want it to look like you. You’ll want the outfit you’re wearing in your pictures to be something that you would normally wear (unless you’re really looking for a photo of yourself in your graduation cap and gown, that is).
  5. Photographers, this goes for you too: relax and be yourself. My favorite pictures aren’t the carefully planned, posed, and framed ones; they’re the ones where we were working together and having fun. That’s when you get the real smiles, the free exchange of creativity, and maybe even a returning client.
  6. Speaking of creativity: don’t be afraid to do something you’re not sure will work. Whether you’re a model, a photographer, or a client, after you’ve got a few shots you feel will be solid, why not try something else? If it doesn’t work, you have other shots to fall back on. If it does, you’ve just increased the value of the product significantly.
  7. When you see people taking a picture, be respectful. Unless you are an EMT rushing through a crowd to help someone who’s just had a heart attack, you really shouldn’t be shoving photographers out of the way to get your own photo – especially if you’re not the person hired to photograph the event. And, to the best of your ability, try to stay out of the background. Nothing ruins a good portrait like a random guy tripping over his shoelaces in the background.
  8. I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this, but: if the space you’re in has rules, follow them. Be respectful of whoever is letting you use their church/garden/private island/home for your pictures, even if they’re not standing nearby to remind you not to walk through certain parts of the sanctuary.

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