Smart Photographers Impress Me

I’ve just returned from leading a workshop to Russia and Estonia, and had one particular experience where I thought, “Wow, smart photographer.”

Despite Communism’s opposition to religion and the confiscation of religious property, they didn’t destroy what was there. On an afternoon visit to one of these fabulous old churches in St. Petersburg (St. Nicholas), we came upon a wedding couple having their photos taken. This wasn’t altogether uncommon. By this time we’d seen several wedding parties around historic churches on our tour. This one was a bit different, though, in that they’d brought an expensive car as a prop, and were going to use it in front of the church. So we thought, “Hey, this might be a good chance for some nice photos.”

As the photographer directed the car into position, we looked for angles we could use when they started the shoot. To get this angle, I flipped out the LCD on the camera so I could hold it just above the water and still see to frame. Nikon D7500, Aperture Priority ISO 200, 1/1600 at f/8, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 10-24mm lens at 30mm. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann.

Most of the time I’ve been in a situation like this, the photographer doing the shoot doesn’t mind as long as you keep your distance and don’t get in the way. So we stayed back, and as he moved around, tried to make sure we kept out of the background. He was great, patient with the couple and occasionally smiling and nodding at us, not seeming to mind at all.

After finishing several different photos of them with the car and the church, he turned our way and waved us over. The groom, who spoke English, explained that the photographer wanted us to gather around the couple and photograph them, and their photographer would shoot that. What a great idea!

After asking us to move closer, the photographer used us for the background around the couple, instead of the church. Nikon D7500, Aperture Priority, ISO 200, 1/1250 at f/8, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 10-24mm lens at 16mm. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann.

I’ve always admired photographers that could think on their feet. Most of us would probably have been annoyed if we’d been shooting the couple and a group came up like we did. But he took the opposite tack. He realized that this was an opportunity to do something different and use us a props. He’d make us look like a bunch of paparazzi photographing the couple as if they were celebrities. Brilliant!

As we moved closer for the photo he wanted, I took advantage of that to get a nice shot of the couple for myself. Nikon D7500, Aperture Priority, ISO 200, 1/1250 at f/8, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 10-24mm lens at 16mm. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann.

This is one of those things that separate good photographers from great photographers. The ability to quickly see that a changing situation isn’t necessarily bad, but can result in unique pictures. Photographers like that take a rainy wedding day and have the bridal party jumping in puddles like little kids. The old, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” It’s a good maxim for life in general, but a great one for photographers. Not only did he make lemonade out of the situation, but he also left us with one of the best experiences of our trip. One of those things that can’t be planned, a serendipitous moment that made for truly special pictures.

So the next time you’re out making pictures and things aren’t going the way you expected, don’t get frustrated and give up. Look at how that changing situation can be used to your advantage, and allow you to do something different. If you’re lucky, you’ll end up with lemonade!

(If you like this story, please share it with your friends, and let them know about the links about photography I post on my business Facebook page. I’m also on Instagram and Twitter, @reedhoffmann)

At the end, he asked us to gather around the couple for a group picture. As you can tell, everyone was having fun. Nikon D7500, Aperture Priority, ISO 200, 1/1000 at f/8, 0.0 EV, Nikkor 10-24mm lens at 15mm. Photo copyright Reed Hoffmann.

 

(If you like this story, please share it with your friends, and let them know about the links about photography I post on my business Facebook page. I’m also on Instagram and Twitter, @reedhoffmann)