October 19, 2017
As a photographer, you’re responsible for so many things that make up an image. The composition, the lighting, the color balance, focus, non-distracting background, clean foreground, is the subject posed in a flattering way, how is their expression, is the angle going to distort them in some way, are they comfortable in front of the camera? There are a gazillion things that fly through my mind before I even take the photo. Some of these things I can control and some I can’t depending on the situation.
But the most important factor is timing. At some point, you get passed all the technical aspects and then you just have to know when to press the button. Sometimes in a portrait session, it’s the way she will brush her hair out of her eyes, or with a couple, it’s the way he tickles her and the joyful giggle that results. There are genuine moments and as a photographer, I’m responsible for documenting that. It’s almost magical, actually, how all those little aspects come together and with just the right timing, I have the ability to capture something so raw and real as though it came straight out of a movie.
In this instance, timing couldn’t have been more impeccable which leads me to believe only God could have orchestrated the interesting nature of the situation.
Christmas of 2014, I got a 50mm 1.8 lens (it’s still my favorite lens). Naturally, I played with it throughout all the Christmas festivities. But what is so interesting is that in each of these images, I specifically remember thinking as that magical moment happened where all the settings lined up and the timing couldn’t be any more perfect— “We’ll be glad to have these photos when they’re gone.”
Within a span of the last six months, I’ve lost two of my grandpas—the two pictured above. In preparation for both funerals, I’ve been asked for the the images to be used as a display at the service. To me, it’s wild—to remember the thought I had as I captured the moment and to have that same thought brought to fruition just a few years later. I had no idea they would pass when they did, and I certainly didn’t know that my family would request my photos for the exact same purpose as I subconsciously documented them for.
This has brought a realization of the importance of documenting. Sure, there are other images that would have sufficed for the funerals, but in these images I got the opportunity to capture these men as their families see them. I can’t count how many times Papa would give me that knowing wink with the little smirk—for anyone that knows him—this image so accurately captures him as a husband, dad, uncle, and grandpa. Then Big Daddy (yes, we call him Big Daddy—I don’t know why)—he was always Santa Clause on Christmas, sitting next to the tree passing out all the presents. I love that he’s looking at me in this image—not the camera. There’s joy in his aged face and the pen and glasses in his shirt pocket are such a consistent characteristic of him.
All that to say, cherish the moment. Whether your taking your iPhone out or hiring a professional photographer—make sure whoever is responsible for timing the open and close of that shutter understands the responsibility to do so with a sensitivity to the moment.