“Anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great” (Ratatouille). Today, I received an e-mail update with a great photo summing up the whole story. It really was a top-quality photo, even though an accident. Of course, maybe that is what makes it so great. It has that Lartigue effect (a not-yet-13-year-old Parisian boy who took some incredible photos).
The update came from some friends in China whose young daughter had just successfully undergone heart surgery this morning. Obviously, that is scary, a lot of emotions are involved, and words alone are usually all we get through e-mail updates from friends. Ok, maybe we get some snapshot. This too was a snapshot, but a powerful one. Photography can be so incredibly powerful, if wielded well.
In the photo, a nurse is holding the six year old girl soon after surgery. The nurse and a couple more nurses behind the girl (in the center of the shot) and the mother are all beaming with joy, clearly saying with their expressions that the darkness of their fears has been washed away and the joy of the morning is dawning. The moment is perfect.
The photo is also dynamic. There is a subtle hint of movement in the mom, toward the girl, but the girl is fixed, clear, and the center of the joy. The blurred, far-background nurses make me feel that all else keeps moving, but for the girl and those around her, all time has slowed so they can drink up every joyous mouthfull of this perfect moment.
And it even has vignetting. Too cool. I am sure this is just the “inferior” qualities of the extreme wide angle of a compact camera, but it further brings my focus to the center of the photo.
These folks are not photographers. This photo is a total fluke. Anyone can take a wonderful photo, but we have to strive to capture all of this on purpose. That is a tall order. There is so much of that photo which cannot be made or forced. It has a lot to do with the settings being second nature so that when that moment comes, you do not think about how to capture it, you just capture it.
Anyone can shoot a great photo, but only the fearless can be great.
I know…wish I could post the photo, but it is not my kid and my family, and I sure am not going to ask them such a trivial question while their daughter is recovering from heart surgery! Oh yeah…and the grainy ISO makes it feel real and not professionally-contrived, somehow.
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