Photographers' Blog

Shooting by accident or standing out from the crowd?

Actress Jessica Biel arrives for the premiere of “Easy Virtue” in Leicester Square, London October 28, 2008.   REUTERS/Luke MacGregor   (BRITAIN)

London-based Reuters photographer Luke MacGregor shot the picture above by using a slow shutter speed, around 1/50th of a second, and continually shooting frames with no flash in the hope that he would catch the moment a flash from another photographer illuminated Jessica Biel posing on the red carpet.

This reminded me of an earlier red-carpet picture of Jessica Biel where Luke had used the same “catch flash” technique. The picture of her arrival at the BAFTAs, below, caused a mini stir of discontent amongst the desk editors in Singapore. Some editors championed the picture, others wanted to reject it, or ‘spike’ it in journalistic terminology. One editor even said the technique was like “shooting by accident”.

U.S. actress Jessica Biel arrives at the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards ceremony at The Royal Opera House in London February 10, 2008. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor   (BRITAIN)

Luke himself says “I guess it is a little like shooting by accident – except that I have planned to shoot by accident and have thought through the situation to try and get what I want using some form of judgement”. 

The art of underexposure

When I first began making photographs, I began using color and slide film. Working with film was always a challenge, but one could expose the film or chrome differently to achieve a desired affect. I have always been fascinated by the way a camera can record color.

UmbrellaThe art of black and white photography is being able to play with tonality and contrast. Some photographers are able to process a scene in black and white. It’s such an art, and there is such beauty in black and white imagery. I love color though, by underexposing just a fraction I feel like a photographer is able to saturate the colors a bit. Shadows can create a mood. Underexposing also creates contrast.

There is a tonal range in an image. Cameras record light differently than we see it, our eyes are able to process more of a range of light than a camera can, meaning we are able to see the detail in shadows. I love to look around and see how the light is falling on a particular scene. I’ll observe the scene, look for the most interesting light, or the most fascinating subjects, or something different.

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