There are few human endeavors that can so precisely capture a moment, enshrined for posterity, as photography. It has been noted by many that photography is both a science and an art form. This is something that certainly remains as true today as ever with the inevitable shift that has occurred from capturing images on film negatives to capturing high-resolution digital imagery. There are technical aspects required to capture a crisp, detailed images; a good quality camera body and lenses, appropriate lighting, correct camera settings for exposure, color balance and focus, etc. And there are also myriad artistic aspects employed in photography; overall composition, use of symmetry and the rule of thirds, use of negative space, deciding between shallow or broad depth of field, using different film speeds/ISO settings to accomplish different looks, and sometimes even intentionally disregarding or distorting any of these to achieve a specific look.
The artistic element of photography can sometimes make the evaluation of the quality of an image vary greatly between individuals. As professional photographers it is important to try and understand the tastes and expectations of the subjects who are being captured to the extent that is possible. Some people will prefer the more traditional posed studio shots over the more modern and casual photojournalistic or art house style. Using wedding photography as the example, the posed photos ensure capturing all of the details of the wedding dress, the entire train, the groom’s tuxedo, or the full line up of bridesmaids and groomsmen. The traditional posed photos are controlled, many times conservative and very structured. The photojournalistic approach, in which different perspectives are achieved, may use dramatic depth of field and parts of the subjects may be intentionally cropped out. This is intended to capture candid emotional moments with a more natural feel to tell the story of the event.
It is also the challenging task of the professional photographer, and some might say yet another art, to strike a balance between opposing considerations, some examples of which follow. This sometimes results in a mix of photographic styles and techniques being employed. One part of a photo session may consist of a flow posing routine where one photographer captures posed images and a second photographer is looking for those special moments that may be captured from a novel perspective using the photojournalist’s eye. Again using the example of wedding photography, some couples want the focus of the photography on the two of them, while others may want to emphasize the family images or guests in attendance. Some couples will want the emphasis placed on close ups shots while others may be more interested in having the entire scene photographed. Some will want a great body of images while others will want only a few very specific images in order to keep costs down. Many times a balance must be struck between the time that is allotted for photography and the expectations of the clients being photographed.
With all of the science and art that goes into getting the perfect images for individuals and the subjective nature of the evaluation of those images, it is essential for the photographer and the subjects of the photography to communicate. Communication before and during the photo session is imperative to achieve a complete understanding of the expectations and goals of the session.