Losing a moment in life – the lighter side of shutterlag

How can I afford losing a moment in life? Not to mention an important one?

As Chekhov once said… No, I won’t go there. Life is what it is – for better and worse, and we want, for perfectly understandable reasons, to remember the better. If we encounter a ‘better’ moment, we’re happy. If we encounter it with a camera in our hands, we’re even happier. But if we encounter a moment worth remembering with a camera in our hands and we miss the shot due to long shutterlag – we are miserable.

It feels like we damage the future recollection of our lives and that’s not a nice feeling at all. One could say that it’s far more important to live your life than to photograph it – but that would be very boring and unfortunate for photographers, wouldn’t it?

Another way of looking at it, and that’s the way I look at it (or at least I fool myself that I do), is that I don’t want to remember only the good parts. The sad, lonely or disappointing moments are far more interesting than the undisputed wonderful and heartwarming smile of a child having blown all the candles on the cake. But what if you only got a shot of their back walking away to open the presents?

That moment is gone and will never, ever happen again. Not in order to experience it and certainly not to photograph it. You’ll have to count on your memory for it to live on and that’s a scary thought.

I suggest two paths on very different planes. The first, like I mentioned above, is not to relish on those perfect moments. Others will come, naturally, but more importantly – the rest of them, which aren’t as great, could prove to generate far more interesting photographs.

So when your child walks away to open those presents – take the shot. Even when all hell breaks lose since the green Power Ranger is nothing like the red one which they asked for, try to take shot (and then run to their rescue – promising to replace it, of course).

My second suggestion, on a mundane, technical level is this – prefocus!
Be ready ahead of time, plan ahead, foresee the situation and focus on those candles ten seconds before they’re blown out. A half-press in all automatic point-n-shoots does that – then hold your finger on that button until the moment comes and complete the press all the way.

Happy (sad) shooting!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *