ISO 1600, 210mm, f5.6, 1/320s, (Model - Unknown*)
The Story of the Photo
Some time ago I accompanied my oldest daughter to day camp. My plan for the day was to tag along and take some pictures of the kids at camp to document the experience for my daughter. While photographing the kids doing beadwork I began to pay attention to some of the junior camp counselors. They had congregated behind a tent and through a mesh window of the tent I could see them talking. I noticed the energy between the counselors and in particular I noticed this young lady who from time to time would catch a glimpse of an older Boy Scout. However, when the Boy Scout would look her way she seemed embarrassed and tried to avert her stare. After watching this scene play out over a series of minutes I decided to see if I could capture the teenage awkwardness of the situation.
I decided to shoot this image in black and white. When I shoot in black and white I often like a very grainy texture, so as to harken back to the days of black and white film. To accomplish this it is necessary to use a relatively high ISO setting. I choose ISO 1600 because it would give sufficient grain while retaining a modicum of details in facial expression. I chose a telephoto lens so as to be able to capture the moment without intruding on the space of the subject. The mesh of the tent window provided a degree of natural diffusion to the light. The challenge of the mesh was to focus through the mesh onto the subject so that the mesh became all but invisible. The mesh window is there in spirit only. It serves as a barrier between the subject and the observer. In preparation for this photo I waited until the Boy Scout crossed into the scene (dark figure on the left) and as he crossed the young girl’s stare was broken and she looked down. I pressed the shutter button and froze that moment of angst/awkwardness in time.
Overall I am exceptionally pleased with the composition of the photo and the choice to shoot it in black and white. I am not sure I would have taken the photograph had the mesh not been in the window of the tent. It provided me with a vantage point that did not disturb the organic nature of the photo. The mesh is really a metaphor for time. As an adult I am able to look back at teenage years and filter those experiences; yet, these teenagers were experiencing these feelings of awkwardness and angst for perhaps the first time. To me and the viewer, the mesh became like time itself- a divider or filter by which to evaluate the scene.
Photos tell stories and it is important to look for those stories in our surroundings and then be familiar enough with our equipment and techniques so as to be able to make split second decisions on how we can capture the stories that life presents to each of us.
Application Lessons from this Photograph:
Know your camera and how to do things like set the ISO, depth of field, shutter speed, and recording modes such as black and white.
Watch for candid photo opportunities.
Use a telephoto lens so as to observe without intruding.
Tell a story with the photograph.