By: Moshe Benaim
Photographs are the most cherished keepsakes from any family simcha. They let you relive the celebration and help you retain the wonderful memories for a lifetime and longer. Over the years, the trend has been moving away from standard, posed, perfect portraits to more of a journalistic photography style, where the emotions of the day come through and you feel the celebration through the special moments caught on camera.
Achieving this type of style may not be so easy – it’s certainly not as simple as posing participants and saying “say cheese!” but if you know what to expect, than catching the unexpected becomes much easier. Here are some ideas to get your started.
An elementary rule of getting great photos is investing in a professional camera. Capturing the moment means that you have to be able snap at an instant and focus in on the right loci. Purchasing a professional camera and learning how to use it properly will allow you to take professional quality photos that will give you memories to keep forever. You can still capture great moments with a point and shoot, so don’t write off the opportunity if you’re not ready to invest in the best; but if you can, you’ll have many greater opportunities to catch the greatest pictures.
The next step may be counterintuitive, but snap, snap away. You might imagine that setting up the perfect pose will bring about the most captivating image. In reality, capturing the moment is less about setting the stage and getting that perfect shot, and more about snapping the moments and hoping for the best outcome. The best and most famous photographs are almost exclusively not posed and taken carefully; they’re almost always when the photographer was taking multiple, perhaps hundreds of shots, and only after they were developed was he able to discern that one came out truly spectacular. Even if the image is sort of staged, still keep snapping, because you never know exactly what influences the picture, whether a slight change in lighting or position, to come out perfect. Capturing emotions on film means getting all the good shots you can take. While you’re taking your pictures, move around a bit and see if different angles work for the image. If you’re in a northern position, move to the southern end and see how the picture works. Perhaps change the height; stand on a chair or crouch down.
Next, experiment with color. Often, imagery and emotions are most potent in black and white or sepia, or black and white with one color. Play around and see what works best for your particular moment. If you can, try several combinations for a particular image. As you experiment more often, you’ll be able to discern what colors are preferred in each situation.
If you’re not aiming for a ton of photos and can afford to wait for the moment to unfold, find a spot that looks like it’s set up for a good shoot. Good lighting, maybe some interesting, well-placed furniture, a spot where people are coming and going and happy. Take up a spot there and wait for a moment to happen, and when it does, you’re all set to capture it. The key here is finding a place or seeking out a situation where the emotions are running high and you’re likely to see people displaying them in a way that’ worth capturing. For example, the moment when the chosson and kallah come in to the dining hall after the chuppah is almost always a picture perfect opportunity; but so is the look on mom’s face as the chosson puts on the ring. Fortunately, those are easy moments to plan to catch. But there may be equally interesting and compelling moments later on, perhaps after the last dance when most of the guests have gone and the couple reunites, or when Dad takes a spin with his daughter.
In general, always be ready for the moment, and practice makes perfect. Keep taking pictures and you are bound to capture many pure and precious moments.