We crave stories. The craft is deeply ingrained in the human psyche. We are not just the tool-making animal; chimps can do that as well, after all. We are the storytelling animal. We are the only species with the ability to reach into the past and talk about the future. It’s what allows us to pass on knowledge and wisdom. And that trait is at the core of every great photographer. Every good shot captures a unique moment in time to tell a story. Sometimes you have to chase those moments, and sometimes you have to wait a while.
The one thing that matters is timing. That fraction of a second is the difference between a great storytelling moment and an average image. Timing requires patience. You learn to watch and wait and shoot and develop a sense of timing. “Chasing moments” is really about the art of observation. In photography, “chasing” means paying attention—mentally slowing down and being able to anticipate when that decisive moment will appear. If you see the moment through your lens, it means you probably missed it. Your shutter needs to be up when all the elements come together to make a truly great storytelling image.
Inspiration can come from discomfort. When you get out of your comfort zone, waiting for that great image can mean physical discomfort like sitting in freezing temperatures or getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. It can also mean emotional discomfort as you step into the shoes of others and gain a deeper understanding of a multitude of narratives. Chasing moments can create empathy. And empathy is the wellspring of creativity.
But tunnel vision can be the death of creativity. We can get so obsessed with one idea that we close ourselves to everything else around us. Chasing moments also means exploring, whether that be visiting the same place at different times of day, or simply looking at a scene from every angle. It’s all about seeing things from a different perspective.
So turn around, get some fresh perspective. Sometimes, that amazing image is just behind you.
Deadline for submissions is Monday, October 23rd at 12:00 pm EST.
In return for the Sponsor's support of this Assignment, National Geographic may provide images from the Assignment to the Sponsor, Nikon, for use on it's website, social media platforms, and other outlets to promote and publicize the Assignment.
Patience Goes a Long Way
Every good photograph tells a story by capturing a unique moment in time. The truth is, very rarely do we “chase” moments. Most of the time, photography is about finding the right location and then anticipating what might happen. There is a lot of waiting around to see what life might spring on you. Light is also an important part of powerful photography, so going at the right time of day or night makes a difference. Patience goes a long way.
The images favorited so far have some common themes, even if the subjects are entirely different. Each photographer captured a compelling moment because they waited for their subject to be in the right space at the right time. Think about this as you walk around with your camera, whether that be a DSLR or mobile device. The best camera is the one you have with you, so take your time, slow down, observe, and be ready when that defining moment flashes by.
Live with Ami Vitale on facebook
For those who missed the live we did with Ami Vitale on Facebook you may view it below. Ami talks about her approach to capturing moments when she is in the field and how patience can go a long way in improving your photography.
Today we will be launching a Facebook Live with National Geographic photographer and editor of the Chasing Moments assignment, Ami Vitale! Ami will be going live at 12 pm EST on the National Geographic Magazine Facebook page. We'll share the live link once the video. Feel free to join the discussion and ask questions about what's the best way to capture a moment and how does Ami approach the idea of photographing moments with her own work.
Thanks and see you at 12 pm EST!