Capturing the Moment

Not all my photography is about art and perfect images. There are those family/friends occasions that you just want to record for your own memories, and perhaps to share with others attending the occasion. So I started thinking. How many people take a camera along and are disappointed with their results when they’ve sobered up and review their shots onscreen? So here are a few tips for getting decent looking memories for that digital picture frame or traditional album. I’m hoping you’ll all have something good to look back on at the end of 2011.

Firstly, this is not the time to experiment with your new camera settings. Things happen fast at events, so put the camera on auto whenever you can unless you’re so experienced with your camera that it comes as second nature to you. At the time I took these shots, my Nikon D90 was a relatively new camera for me, so most of my photos were taken on auto for this very reason.  Try and get there a little early, so you can fire off a few test shots before everyone arrives. You’ll then be ready for the meet and greet as your host gathers their guests.

Don’t get people to stare at the camera and pose for every shot. You’ll end up having a series of false grins and nervous folk (who don’t feel comfortable in front of a camera). A few posed shots ensure you’ve captured the attendance of people, but not the flavour of the event. The first shot of my Mum’s 80th birthday this time last year shows what happens if you just wander around getting the flavour of an event without drawing other people’s attention to yourself. One person spotted me and…instant grin. But everyone else is having fun and greeting each other. Moments that are a blur the following day.

The shot above again is a candid one. Not perfect, not brilliantly composed, but catches the venue setting, the balloons, the tables and the people milling around and having fun.

My brother was asked to give a speech. I didn’t want to make him more nervous than he already was, so I zoomed in and took the shot from the other end of a long table.

My dad had dug out photos of my mum as a little girl and put some pictures up around the walls of the venue. I recorded that. Below is one such picture.

Then there are the candid, close up shots that a bit of zoom can get as long as you have a good flash or enough light. I was pleased as punch with this next one.

A lot of thought had gone into the food, as my Mum wanted a meal rather than a party. so don’t forget to take shots of food if it’s beautifully done as this meal was.

And, of course, the cake. I went behind the scenes and persuaded the staff to let me take this before it was presented to Mum.

Below is one of the stars of the evening, my Dad. He was not sat in the best of places for photos, but he can barely walk, so I just caught the moments then played later. Here’s what I did. The before and after shots show that you can turn a disadvantage into an advantage (my parents have a brilliant sense of humour).

My Dad is now Godfrey gadabout! When I had the photos printed, put them into a handmade paper album with a big ribbon tied around it and posted it to Mum they were thrilled with it, and it’s still displayed on their coffee table a year later!

I had a similar problem as Dad sat there all night, getting a good shot of my parents together. Here photoshop came to the rescue. I removed the background annoyance to make a reasonable picture of them on Mum’s special day.

My photoshop skills in this area were not brilliant, but the photo is greatly improved and rescued the shot for posterity.

Enjoy your events, and get some great  memories to share!


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Toad Hollow Photography
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 18:23:36

    Great tips and examples! Really timely, I enjoyed this a lot. Thanks for posting!


  2. Francis
    Jan 08, 2011 @ 03:53:02

    Good ideas for snapshots of family and friends. It give a new life to old ones too.


  3. 47whitebuffalo
    Jan 10, 2011 @ 05:09:29

    I WANT that food—and that cake—NOW!!!!!!! LOL.


  4. hemlock1981
    Jan 10, 2011 @ 15:02:58

    Excellent captures. And thanks for reminding us to catch the candid shots in life.


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