A snapshot’s ephemeral opportunity

A good snapshot is an informal photograph taken rapidly, sometimes without the subject’s knowledge. It is a photo opportunity with an extremely short lifespan, available only a brief moment. A snapshot is a metamorphosing, emotional instant. It glows a briefly and disappears like a ghostly apparition. It is up to the photographer to catch that ephemeral moment at the right time and memorialize it.

“Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.”Henri Cartier-Bresson

I am a self-taught photographer without pretensions. I just like to take pictures and what I know I today was instilled in me by my numerous failures.
A snapshot to me is different from a “conventional” photograph by the mere fact that it is taken on the fly, often surreptitiously. No serious photographer is keen to show people staring at the camera with a frozen smile on their faces. He wants to catch them unaware of the camera’s glaring eye.

The best way to take candid snapshots is by using a zoom lens. This way you can catch people in a natural state, totally unaware that their faces and their actions mirror their most inner emotions.

A lot of things can go wrong when shooting with a zoom lens. The most obvious is unwanted people or animals bursting into your field of vision. That’s why, when I spot a potential target I keep my finger on the trigger ready to unleash a volley of shots.

The light is also extremely important. Shadows will maim faces and limbs. My favorite time to shoot, especially sporting events, is under overcast skies. It gives you a clear view devoid of camouflaging shades of your subject.

A resourceful photographer should not be afraid to use creative camera angles. Shooting from the rear of the subject rather from the front can reveal some interesting aspects of a person.
If you can catch emotion in a shot, even if the picture is slightly blurred, you can call it a good snapshot.

No use running away; some day unbeknownst to you, you will find yourself in my gunsight viewfinder.

Alain

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