How the best do the "I was there shot"
21 Oct 2013
In my first series of people taking their picture in the "world's most famous parking lot" (the Tunnel view of Yosemite Valley in California), we got to see the creative side of photographers. Some pretty crazy things people come up with at this breath taking place in the world. This article switched from a photo essay to a "how to" essay. It is about people who actually do a great job of getting that special "I was there" shot that are keepers. Most people taking this kind of picture show they never were taught how to take a picture. A picture that can inspire and when shared are interesting to their friends. Not flat, boring, or uninspiring. In fact the stones in the wall are more inspiring in most cases. And the stones are gray.
First shot, modeling dynamics to show life. Posed shots are so.... static. Do you see the people ads in magazines where the hair is flying, the colors are great, and the person is loose. So many people just hold their hands in their lap, look disinterested, and no color. Think about what you would want someone to remember about your shot. Prepare ahead of time. I can spot someone who is going to be cool at the wall as soon as they get off the bus. They stand out from the herd of cattle moving towards the wall. The couple or friends are dressed right, move with excitement, and can express what is going on with their body language. They don't march to the wall, become a statue, have a picture taken, and walk back onto the bus. No, they pick out their spot, embrace the wall for effect, show excitement, and just look great! The camera captures a moment in their lives they want to remember. One that could be put on the wall and friends would comment about what they saw when looking at the photo.
Second shot, this couple just grabbed everyone's attention. He was cool, relaxed, dressed in an interesting way, not as the "ugly tourist." They were comfortable and interacting with this great scene of Yosemite Valley. It was like they were home here. His hat, arm slung on the knee, head tilted forward, and enjoying the moment. She just had a great flowing dress and nice hat on also. Great shot and lovely couple.
Now the third shot, you can see she was a little stiff, but notice how she got the right lines in the rock to help make her shot more interesting. Attention to detail helps make shots better. Even though she was rigid for the shot, you can still see excitement. She took home a winner.
Now modeling sends a message, Shot#4 in the sequence shows the model with a motorcycle helmet on. The person with the camera kept the helmet on also. You may not like the shot, but other motorcyclist? They have cultic tendencies on what is cool in their book and this will appeal to them and the modelers themselves. Usually model shots need to get the eyes; here they give up the key point for the helmet and big sunglasses. I can see Darth Vader wanting this photo on his office wall! I can even hear, Luke, I'm your father. Good thing cameras have back displays, because looking through a viewfinder with a helmet on isn't easy. Wonder how they kiss each other. Well they identify with motorcycles and helmets help tell that story, I got here on a bike. Eat dirt with envy.
The next point is seen in the photo of the couple talking, relaxed, enjoying each other and the great experience. She could communicate her feelings. People from all over the world come to this place that can only hold under a 100 people at a time. Millions every year make the pilgrimage to this place. I see the same great model shots from different nationalities, so I know it isn't cultural. But it is only 1 in a hundred who take a good "I was their" shot. We need to help people learn. With so many cameras going I think the masses are becoming zombies as evident by how they all look as soon as someone takes their picture. Notice how friends can got back to back to show closeness in the great scene in the next photo. Even without color in the outfits, the relaxed, no stiff lines, healthy look works on the wall as the next couple of shots show.
Even experimenting at modeling can be interesting. The girl in the blue top and white shorts had all kinds of shots taken of her doing different poses. She held my attention the whole time. And speaking of attention, when someone what to show energy at the wall, this girl in the next shot could leap. She went higher than anyone else I've ever seen (I have about a dozen shots of people leaping at the wall). One has to be quick and she got a slam dunk on this one. Does it communicate? Sure does. Does it show life? As long as she leaps onto the parking lot and not the other direction. (pretty steep on the other side of the wall) Will her friend comment on it when they see it? I think it is a winner.
I hope this helps you and your friends when using the "I was there" shot. It is the most popular photo type in the world and the one least explained. Have you ever read an article on this subject? Seen anyone else talking to you about it? Well Vibro1 is here for the rescue. Go out and have fun and please help humans from becoming Zombies before the camera. I advocate not shooting them, but curing them instead. Next time I will talk about the romantic shots at the wall. I have enough material for the "just plain weird material," but I can't figure out what to do with it.