The Shot

Photo by Arthur Pollock

I got a few messages about, “How do you get THE shot?” I believe this is what the life long study of photography is all about. We tried to answer that HERE and HERE and HERE and come to think of it, the entire existence of this blog and our photo zine is the exploration of this question.

A couple variants also came in, “How do you get into these certain situations?” and “How do you get these portraits?” The questions weren’t directed towards me, they are referring to the photos we publish.

I think, my opinion, that you are shooting 1 of 2 things. That is your story OR someone else’s story. It is up to you how detailed you want to tell that story. Some of the most detailed descriptive stories you see in Life Magazine or National Geographic or New York Times took months or years to photograph.

But how? For your story, I say shoot everything. Edit later. Figure out what it is you are trying to say. Even though it is fake as fuck, you could argue that the Kardashians are simply just master story tellers. Something in their story, not sure what, resonates with millions of people.

On the other side, in journalism they call your contact person the “fixer”. So find a story and find the person that will fix you up deep into that story. Figure out where the story begins and where it ends and shoot it.

How do you get the portrait? Ask politely. Or don’t. Either way, shoot and move on.

4 responses to “The Shot”

  1. fern Avatar

    These past few articles have really resonated with me, and this one in particular struck a cord. I’ve been trying to shoot a lot more often lately, really get into the habit of having a camera with me all the time and to keep an eye out for ‘The Shot’. At the same time, this has lead to a lot of introspection in regards to what I’m really doing half the time, if there’s any rhyme or reason to it, and if I’m telling my story (which is the only story I can tell at this moment, I think), what is that story all about.

    This post, and the others mentioned, are about the closest thing to a short answer to these questions, which is nice. Here’s another thing I’ve been thinking about a lot: When telling your story, you almost have to see yourself objectively. I think you touched on this in another article, but while your personal life may seem boring and dull, it may not seems that way in someone else’s eyes. I guess the trick is trying to see yourself through those eyes.

  2. RZZ Avatar

    Thanks Fern, glad you are feeling the articles!

    And you are right, when you are documenting yourself you have to be objective. For example, most of us don’t want to photograph our parents, or if and when we do, sharing those photos isn’t easy. But they are the origin of our story. And they are interesting because they also have their own stories.

    Also, maybe shooting everything in your life isn’t the story you are exactly trying to tell. (Although as an editor, these are the stories I like the most.) Some guys in SF I know only shoot Market St. downtown. That is the story their are documenting.

  3. Reuben Radding Avatar
    Reuben Radding

    Objectivity, as a aspect of perspective, is an ever-shifting thing. I do the shoot everything method I THINK, but that’s based on my perspective today. A year from now I might still think I’ve been broad enough, but three more years could pass and I’ll see what hangups and prejudices kept me from embracing as many areas of my life as I might have. Additionally, our objectivity about the editing and contextualizing of the work we’ve made can be approached numerous ways, after the fact, and over time this reveals that there may not be One Ultimate Way for the photographs to be grouped, named, or presented. Even the photographers you meet who just shoot one neighborhood, or at one time of day…the story might be Market Street Downtown on the surface, but over time and after their time, it can become other things too.

  4. RZZ Avatar

    So so true Reuben. These are the problems of time travel/photography. We exist in multiple time lines at once.

    While the snap is “now”, the photograph just birthed infinite universes.