Still Photographers – Showstoppers

Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art, ISO 2200, ƒ/4, 1/80

When you go and experience the Theatre you are seeing the sequencing of a story into moments. Within each scene there is build to a crescendo and then all of these different scenes build to a showstopper most of the time.

A showstopper is a performance or segment of a theatrical production that induces a positive audience reaction strong enough to pause the production.

Nikon D4, NIKKOR 14-24mm ƒ/2.8G, ISO 12800, ƒ/2.8, 1/125

Now when you compare the two photos above the main difference is one is a theatre production and the other is real life happening in real time.

For a scene to be a real showstopper the actors must portray through their body language, expressions and tone of voice what would be in a real life situation.

Now what the theatre has in common with still photography is real life is more like video and moving constantly and with theatre and the still image the pause of the action allows time for the audience to absorb the moment.

Nikon D3, NIKKOR 85mm ƒ/1.4D, ISO 200, ƒ/1.4, 1/100

In life we have moments where we ponder and think. If a writer is describing this brief moment they may take four or five pages to describe all that weighs on the character as well as their thoughts and/or dreams. In real life you cannot hear or read those thoughts of people. However in real life the expressions of the person communicates often some of this which a writer only has text to convey.

Nikon D750, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/250

Actors must convey those four to five pages of text from a book into the play version of that book. The playwright may have notes to the side of the script to help the actor know what they are trying to communicate, but still what it boils down to is capturing in a moment the expression, body language and tone to communicate to the audience the character’s thoughts.

Photojournalists/photographers are not actors in a play. If they are a photographer and they are shooting a scene that will be used in advertising to sell something or doing public relations for a corporation they often will assume the roll of the director. They will place the actors and create the scene to communicate all that they need to capture to move the audience to action.

If they are photojournalists they cannot take on the roll of director. They take on a different roll. The best way to describe that roll has been to be the fly on the wall. The photojournalists can fly around the room looking for a better perspective to see what is going on and then they capture moments as they happen to the later communicate to their audience what happened.

Nikon D5, Nikon 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 9000, ƒ/5.3, 1/400

What does the novelist, playwright, director, actor, and photographer all have in common no matter their roll? Each is aware of what they are communicating and why. To move the audience you must know what you are trying to capture as a photographer.

Nikon D750, Nikon 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 7200, ƒ/5.6, 1/500

If you are a photographer you are capturing moments for which you hope they make others pause. As a photojournalist I have learned to do my research before I show up. Listen a great deal with my ears and eyes. I clarify through questions to understand the situation so that I am doing all I can to be true to the moment and not to my preconceived thoughts. I look for those moments that will capture and hopefully be the showstopper that makes you pause and absorb the moment.

I want my pictures to worth the price of admission that my clients pay to see them.