One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from shooting photos for cats breeder is to stay in the flow.
When you shoot cat (and most of the times you have to complete a shooting session for 4 or more cats) you cannot try to get the perfect photo.
Cats are beautiful and sometimes they seems to pose just for your camera, but this happen when you’re photographing your cat while sleeping on the sofa.
When you have to photograph some big and nervous Maine Coons that are scared of you and that try to jump everywhere, it’s very very difficult to get the perfect framing or the perfect pose.
The more you try to get a 100% perfect image, the more you’ll finish for having a mediocre photography.
So I discovered that the best thing when photographing (not only cats) is to just relax, disappear and remain “in the flow”. That means staying in that state of mind in which you surrender to whatever will come, leaving your ego behind you and just relax, letting the big picture just happening.
In order to get this, the best way is to reduce all the variables (set everything before, light, set, exposure, aperture, iso) and simply being fully in the present moment. And press the shutter when you FEEL it’s the right moment to press the shutter, rather then when you think you SHOULD press the shutter.
This way I’ve been able to capture this front photo of this beautiful white Maine Coon female.
I like the way she looks straight in the lens, almost challenging me. I didn’t look for this picture. I was just looking at her through the viewfinder when suddenly she looked at me this way. I felt a shiver down my spine and THAT was the moment I felt I had to press the shutter button. Of course, everything happens very fast, so you have to train in order to become sensitive to this “moments”. But it’s a feel, not a project. It’s not still life photography (but I’m pretty sure even some still life and/or landscape photographer uses the same attitude). Post processing came two weeks after the shot and I must confess is a bit aggressive post-processing, but…since I processed this photo for me (and not for the customer, who already had her portfolio done with other shots) I’ve chosen to render the emotions I felt in that moment.
Like I said before, this apply to cat photography and to all the other type of photography I’ve shot in my life.
When I’m taking portraits of my niece (21 months old, let’s say…restless and erratic in her moves) I see I get the best results when I let her play by herself, trying to become a discreete witness. In those moments, if I can stay relaxed and “in the flow“, observing her movements and keeping to follow her, the decisive moment, the perfect picture…arrives. By itself.
A great photography is not something I want to achieve, it’s rather something that I let happen.
Same occurs with street photography. There was a time when I really wanted to be “sneaky” and “stealth” to take perfect candid picture. That involved me hiding like a ninja or stalking my subject in a very uncomfortable and somehow creepy way. Beside the fact there are a lot of techniques to shoot candid photos without acting creepy, I really think being stealth or sneaky in street photography is overrated.
street photography is not about not being seen by the scene, it’s more about being part of the scene.
I’ve seen a lot of street photography picture on the web shot with long tele lens, ad they absolutely lack of presence, they’re like voyeuristic and sometimes disturbing.
While I’ve seen beautiful, breathtaking street photos shot with wide angles, where you can almost smell the atmosphere of the shot.
Don’t hide from it. Be part of it.
Be part of the cat environment, feel how the cat feels, try to set a connection. With the cat. With the baby. With the scene.
And be relaxed. In a relaxed yet focused state of mind, where you’re not looking for something, you’re just letting everything happen. This way came some of my best photos and I believe the same can happen to you.
Same thing for a lot of topics in life, may be for life itself. We always put all our efforts to win things, to get the perfect thing, to reach out for something that, when we reached it, most of times it’s not really that important. Life -at least in her basics- goes on effortless on its own. And when we think of the most happiest moments of our existence, many of them happened spontaneously, almost without effort. When you received/gave your first kiss you didn’t put an effort to get the perfect kiss. But if you think about it now, all the beauty of that moment came from the fact you just let it happen.
Same for this blog, my friend. I wrote a much of articles almost 3 years ago, trying to push it up. It didn’t go up. And I gave up. Better: I forgot about this blog. When I opened the emails 2 years later (I receive notification from this blog on a separate mail account which I didn’t use to check) I was like “wow, what the hell has happened here?“! I found a lot of comments, most of them really amazed for the blog. And then I started to write again with a totally different mood.
It’s senseless for me now to schedule my articles.
I prefer just let them happen and not be slave to an agenda or to expectations (mine or someone else’s).
Stay in the flow. Press the shutter when you feel.
And please, share your opinion here below in the comments.