Submit photos that highlight emotion and you’ll be eligible to win #DIVERGE8 Limited Edition hats and a $100 gift card to B&H Photo. We still want you to submit any and all photos relative to the contest, this challenge is for additional giveaways within the month of October. Read on to hear from our #DIVERGE8 Judge Brad Christian on what emotion means to him and some tips on how to capture it.
Emotion is a primary way we connect with each other. By capturing moments of raw human emotion in your photography, it enables the viewer to feel something and in a way, share in the experience.
In the context of hunting photography, capturing emotion can be challenging. One of the most common problems I see is that photographers are engaging as more of a hunting partner rather than truly documenting the entirety of a situation as it happens. If you want to capture raw emotion, you have to make a choice. Co-hunter or photographer? If the answer is photographer, make the choice to disappear and fade into the background.
You finally make camp at 10pm and you’re so hungry you could eat your boot. If you decide to stash your camera and eat dinner with the hunter, you will miss the moment of frustration when he can’t find his lighter amidst the gear bomb in the tent. Or maybe he falls asleep and jerks awake a few minutes later to find the water boiling over. These are the little human moments we tell stories about later but are often missed in photos.
The hunter kills. Often what happens is the photographer will personally engage with the hunter to celebrate the accomplishment. Then he clicks back into “work mode,” photographing the situation and getting the harvest photos. Once the work is done, then he’ll engage the hunter again and share in the moment a second time.
The most interesting emotional moments often come on each side of the “photo shoot” because real human emotion was happening between the photographer and hunter. But if you fall back and be a fly on the wall, that emotion will still happen and you’ll be there to capture it.
It’s a tough balance and there’s no right or wrong here. I’m not suggesting you become totally impersonal and never engage with your subjects. But it is important to decide what your goals are and work in such a way that tracks towards those goals. If you want to land an emotional photo that people will remember, you have to take photos in emotional moments.
Expectations are everything in a relationship. As you make plans to photograph a hunter, walk them through your game plan so they understand why you’re not immediately engaging. Most hunters have never been photographed so it will likely feel awkward to experience you as an observer rather than a true hunting partner. Help them feel comfortable before they commit to the hunt by explaining your plan and asking them questions about what they want out of this experience. Expectations go both ways and once clear communications have been established, the experience and the accompanying photos will capture the benefit for all to see.