As I sit on a pleasant Sunday morning watching football and waiting for a giant plate of nachos to appear, it seems a good time to talk about anticipation.
I really believe anticipation is one of the most under-appreciated qualities in a photographer. These days, timing seems to have become largely of spray-and-pray with cameras that shoot a hundred images per second. It’s easy to fall into the mentality that if you shoot continuously, one of the shots will catch the height of the action. Actually, it’s not always the case.
One of the biggest breakthroughs for me as I was developing my technique was the move from 35mm to medium format. At first it was incredibly frustrating, only having one shot before having to bring the camera down from my eye and wind it; manual focus was even more difficult. Once I forced myself to adjust, however, I found that my sense of anticipation grew exponentially. I had to be able to anticipate the moment, because I would only get one shot at it.
The keen sense of anticipation also means a greater ability to create a bond with your subjects. How? Well, shooting continuously means constantly having the camera in front of your face. It’s hard to feel a strong connection with a faceless person. Being prepared to catch the moment means putting the camera to your eye when there’s a reason to, allowing you to put your subjects more at ease.
On the practical side, learning to anticipate your shots means not having to slog through seventeen nearly identical images to find the one you were after in the first place.
Here are a few examples from my “Life Backstage” project, where the low light conditions make anticipation even more critical.