Skip to main content

The making of a photograph

A porter reaches back to help another as they struggle to carry their burdens up into the city, Istanbul, Turkey.
It strikes me that photo enthusiasts are often more interested in the equipment used to take a photograph and the settings as if somehow that knowledge will help them create images like the ones they admire.

On the other hand art critics look at images as the starting point for an interpretation. They often give images a meaning far beyond what was in the photographers mind at the time of making the image.

Professional photographers on the other hand look at images and think about how they would have tackled the same situation to get the shot. They are less concerned with the equipment or the interpretation and more interested in the practical decision making involved and the point of view, both physical and interpretive, of the photographer.

Over the years the image above has become quite symbolic to me. Each man carries a burden through life and sometimes everyone needs a little help to take the next step. My understanding of the image I shot on that day has evolved. Here's how the actual moment of capture happened...

One day when I was a young photojournalist student, I was walking near the harbour in Istanbul when I saw a row of men with heavy barrels on their backs. They were crossing the road and as each man crossed the one in front turned around to help the man behind him up onto the pavement. It immediately struck me as an iconic and symbolic moment.

I had my SLR, loaded with Ilford HP 5 film, hence the grainy print, and an 80-200mm lens. I was a long way off and had to run flat out to get close enough for a shot at 200mm. By the time I was in range I could only manage to shoot one frame of the last two men in the row. Weeks later when I got home and developed the negative I realised I'd captured something special. The image has been in my portfolio ever since and reaction from viewers has always been good. Generally people 'get it'.

The thing that interests me now though is that over time the power and meaning of the image has grown.

More soon...


Popular posts from this blog

The art of writing a caption

A caption in its simplest form is the the title of an image but usually we mean a bit more. A full caption takes the form of descriptive text, usually a few sentences.

A good caption informs us about the things we cannot see and encourages us to look at an image more closely. There is a relationship of mutual benefit and dependence between a well written caption and an image. The caption can bring an image to life by providing context and meaning. It is also the link between the article/story/text and the image.

Magda Indigo has written a good description of a caption here. I agree with her dislike of "untitled". It does show a certain lack of imagination and is not particularly helpful to the viewer. Creating an image is all about trying to communicate something and the caption is vital to help the audience understand an image. It can hugely enhance the viewers experience.

A good caption is a piece of writing that should be concise, accurate, informative and as carefully craft…

All the different types of photography

Welcome to my blog. While you're here why not browse through my extensive library of articles covering everything from tips on how to do things photographic to help with the mental approach you need to become a successful photographer. You'll also find articles with some of my unconventional views. Yes, I've rattled a view cages in my time. Hope you have as much fun reading them as I did writing them.

You can view my more serious work on

All the different types of photography

With the help of acquaintances on a photographic site I've tried to compile a list of all the different types of photography out there. I'm sure there are many still missing but the list is pretty impressive so far. We have identified around 80 descriptions.

For fun I've highlighted in bold the different types I've done so far...

3D photography
Action photography
Advertising photography
Aerial photography
Amateur photography
Animal photography
Architecture photography

Art of the decisive moment

Capturing the decisive moment requires patience and timing. Good timing depends on your ability to anticipate the right moment.

Welcome to my relaunched blog. You'll notice a new design to mark the moment. What do you think?

The plan is to write far more regularly. Short posts. Easy to read. Focused on a single subject.

This time it's about that vital element. The anticipation of the decisive moment.

As a scene unfolds you're thinking about what is going to happen next. Where are people moving to? What are they doing? What's happening in the background? Do you have the right point of view or do you need to move?

To be ready for the moment you need a prepared mind and a prepared camera. I almost never use burst mode. It's too inaccurate. While the shutter is clattering away you're not seeing what is about to happen. You run the risk that the exact split second you should have snapped is between frames. I prefer the approach of taking a single shot, relying on t…