What makes a shot?

What makes a shot? New photographers think “technique” – and that is understandable, since the weakest points are where you concentrate first.

But in the end, it is much more than technique.

As an illustration of some of the factors, take a shot like this, from that recent “autumn” magazine shoot in Oakville:

Vanessa and melony showing fashion (Photo: Michael Willems)

What had to happen for this shot?

  1. Technique, of course. I described this in my post of 5 September. Two lights, and a gel on the light on our right (that autumn feeling!), and a long lens (70-200).
  2. People. Two models (thanks, Vanessa and Mel), an assistant (thanks Kurt), client for direction, and myself. Five people. And they all have to show up.
  3. The models. Modeling is a profession, and not everyone can do it equally well. Models have to look good, be the right types for the shoot, carry themselves well, and even have a good day. I am sure even supermodels have off-days, so it is something to keep in mind: you are shooting people.
  4. Clothing. The clothing here was from a great Oakville store – instant makeover. Without that, nothing.
  5. Props. The theme was “autumn”. So flowers and fruit personalized that very well – as well as introducing wonderful colour. Props are often forgotten but they can make (or break) a shot.
  6. Weather. Since I am using strobes and speedlights, I can do this in pretty much any light – but I still don’t want too much rain, and I do not want direct sunlight on the models if I can help it, and I sure don’t want sunlight into the models’ eyes-  they would squint.
  7. Location. I chose this location because it had many options, and settled quickly on this particular option – shows a “boulevard” type walk, shows trees, even shows autumn trees even though this was still summer. And those wonderful European-looking street lights.
  8. Moment. In this shoot, half the shots (40 out of 85) shots were unusable due to one or both  of the two models blinking. With two models, on a bright day, that happens! And some were not in sharp focus (6 out of 85) or were awkward moments.

Get all of the above working, and you get nice shots. It’s not just technique: subject and moment are important!


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