Advocate Photo Blog

The Addiction of Getting 'The Shot'

In Advocate Photo Blog

Nicolas Galindo

By Nicolas Galindo
May 4, 2017 at 11:54 p.m.

    The interesting thing about photography is that it is exceptionally subjective. What one person might find to be visually appealing could be entirely revolting to someone else. Another fun aspect of photography is that each and every person can view the same situation in an entirely different manner and come up with entirely different images. In the end though, what really matters is how you, the photographer, feel about the photo that you took.

    This aspect of photography is a difficult one to overcome for many. In part because we’re putting our work out there for all to see. Hoping that the audience who sees it can appreciate the hard work and thought that went into producing that single image; but also in part, because we are our own worst critics. At least I know I am anyway.

    You could ask any photographer after any shoot they go on if they feel they got ‘the shot.’ The confident and experienced ones will more often than not say yes. However, the vast majority will nit-pick and say that they “got something” or “it’ll work.” Then you’ll possibly end up hearing a string of complaints about how they wish they’d been in a different spot or how they hoped they viewed the situation differently. These complaints are what make the feeling of getting ‘the shot’ all the more joyous.

    There’s only been a few times where I have personally experienced the feeling of having got ‘the shot.’ The first was during college. My school held annual weekend workshops in the small communities surrounding the university. Essentially, all the students in the photojournalism program would invade a small town on a relatively mundane weekend. One where there was nothing really planned or super special occurring, just a typical weekend in small town Southern Illinois. Professors would come, along with working professionals in the industry from across the country to help coach and critique the students to help them be better photojournalists.

    It was the first morning of the workshop and I set out before the sun came up to the local McDonald's, since I was informed that the local elderly 'gossip circle' formed there in the pre-dawn hours. Sure enough, there were a few groups of senior citizens milling about the tables enjoying their cups of coffee and chatting. I was immediately drawn towards one group since they seemed to be a bit more spritely in their conversations, gestures, and facial expressions. So I went up, introduced myself and what I was doing and they were more than happy to allow me to snap some photos. I was around this group for a good forty-five minutes to an hour before they all got up and left. I had a bunch of images, sure, but I didn't have anything worthwhile.


    I bounced to another group of elderly gentleman that was doing the exact same thing. They were happy to have me float about them as they discussed their plans for the day and the upcoming weekend. I worked a couple angles, trying different things but wasn't really getting much from them. Their interactions amongst each other were very straight forward, some laughs sprinkled in, but nothing that really showed these four men were friends. Again, I was left with a bunch of "it'll work" images on my card.


    I was going on about two hours at the McDonald's and I haven't had anything to eat yet. I decided to take a break and grab some food and mill about with these nice men. I figured I could at least get some good information on where to go later to find some great shots, if anything. I put the camera down for a bit and set about eating, intermittently chatting with the older men, who were regulars, it turns out. That's when the most unexpected interaction occurred. One of the employees, that knew the men well, came over and started to flutter a plastic bag over one of the men's heads. I dropped my food, grabbed my camera, and shot about three frames before the moment passed. I wasn't even sure if I got a decent shot out of the couple frames, so I had to check the back of the camera right away to make sure. I flipped through and found I had gotten 'the shot.' 


    As a photojournalist, it takes a lot time, practice, and patience, to not only wait for a great moment, but to also sense the potential for a great moment to occur. Of course, there are numerous occasions where you just kind of get lucky. While there still will be plenty of times where you come back from a shoot not really knowing if you have anything decent to show, let alone use. Yet, for all those times that you don’t end up with a great shot or moment, the exhilaration you get from getting ‘the shot’ just once is enough to feed the addiction to want to do it again and again.



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