Yesterday I covered the rally in support of the EMD workers in London. I saw a lot of my former colleagues in the media and was shooting not with them but against them. They had me outgunned with their high end DSLRs and top-of-the-line "L" lenses. They were relaxed as they worked; They could afford to be. If they saw a picture, they shot a picture. No shutter lag.
For me, it was different. Both my cameras take a moment to capture an image. This means that not only do I miss shots but it means I fill my cards with images I don't want.
I do a number of things to get around this problem. First, I approach my pictures as an editor would and not simply a photographer. My images must expand upon my news report and thus be useful for "breaking up all the grey space" (the printed words).
And my images are often not moments but happenings. I take pictures of the crowd and try for something that will look almost the same whether the picture is taken now or five seconds into the future.
Buses, some from as far away as Sudbury in northern Ontario, line the street beside Victoria Park in London, the site of Saturday's rally in support of the locked out EMD workers.
When capturing the fleeting, often the first thing to flee is my focus. My cameras, especially my Fuji HS10, can have difficulty focusing quickly enough. I find happenings give my cameras time to focus. With focus concerns out of the way, I can try and grab suitable pictures. Note the word: suitable.
Ken Lewenza is in focus. I'm happy. But, I used one that was out-of-focus in my story. Action trumped focus.
Sure, I'd like to shoot an award winner but that is a serendipitous moment for me. If I were to grab such a moment, it would take a big hit of luck. No, I am happy with suitable. I am happy with images that tell the story and do it with a modicum of style.
I have learned that the average reader wants to know what happened. If your pictures can tell the reader what went down, and do it clearly, do it with style, your images will pull their weight on the page.
Sure, try and shoot like a "Dave Chidley", one of my photojournalist heroes, but don't let yourself be bummed out when you fail. I'm not Dave. I've always faced that fact. But now I have cameras putting me behind the photojournalism eight ball.
Not only does a man have to know his limitations, but a shooter has to know the limitations of the equipment. Learn to work within the confines of both and you will deliver the photographic goods.
(p.s. Don't give Dave a point-and-shoot. The images he'll capture will be so good that they will depress you. The man has no limitations. He can take a P and S camera into the ring and with him at their back, encourage a simple camera to hit well above its fighting weight.)