It happens to everyone the very moment that they pick up a camera. Amateurs and Professionals alike (although hopefully not so often with the latter), as soon as that camera is in your hand, your eyes start darting from group of people to the next. All the time hunting for that really great shot. Checking the sky to see what the sun is doing, where it is in the sky, how long until golden hour etc. The thing is, quite often the shot you wanted is happening right under your nose. I think the trick is not to look for photographs. If you look too hard, you’ll never see them. Look for the moments, especially the ones that no one else seems to have noticed. Try to see the less obvious, or at least the obvious but from a different viewpoint. It can be difficult to condition yourself to not determine what photograph you are going to take in the 5 or 10 minutes, but instead to react to what is happening and to record it as it actually happens naturally. It’s not something that you can ever say, “there we go, I’ve learned that now, on to the next thing”, it’s an ongoing process, the essence of documentary photography. Don’t construct, record.
That’s why this is one of my favourite shots. I stood for several minutes and watched as the guy in the bottom left of the frame watched the sun start to set, waiting for just that perfect moment to get the seascape he wanted, that perfect golden glow over the bay, all the time, camera poised at the ready. All the time missing the lovely interaction and play between his wife and son going on right in front of him – from where he was stood, that would have been a beautiful photo.
We’ve all done it, many times. Sometimes, when you look to hard, you can’t see what’s right in front of you.
By Mark J Hillyer: Wedding Photographer Yorkshire