Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Which photo is best?

I will take a few situations show you the take and help you see why one photo stands out over the rest.

First I am taking the drive of a basketball player to the basket. This is the series of six images shot extremely close in time. They are so close in time that the time from the first to the last image is only one second total time.

Take a moment and go through each photo separately and make your pick first. We may or may not agree, but in the end can you articulate why one photo is the best?

Photo 1

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4

Photo 5
Photo 6

Sports is about competition

Rather than calling these rules lets call this list of mine guidelines. These are things I generally am looking for in a sports photo beyond the technical correctness of the photo.
  1. The ball
  2. Competition
  3. Peak action
I like three photos more than the others. I like 1, 2 and 4, because all three elements are in those photos.

The 3rd photo she is so much in front of the competition they don't really exist and in the 5th and  6th photo she has already blown by the competition therefore she is not overcoming adversity.


The moment before she blows by the player to the basket you can see the defender and the offensive player competing for the space on the floor. Now it is clear to me in photo 2 the offensive player has more desire on her face than the defender.

I think this face expression is the nuance that commentators talk about between the winning team and the loosing team. She wants the win and it shows and the defender's expression is complacent.

I think the pick is definitely between 1 and 2.  Let's look at them side by side.

I like the ponytail of the player up in the back, it gives it more motion than the other photo. I also like the defender's hand looking like it is trying to reach for the ball more in the second photo. I can also feel her next step being the jump step to the basket and completing the move to the basket.

The last thing I would do is the crop a little tighter and my final image would look like this here.

What do you think?

Do you come to the same conclusions? Maybe you can argue for another photo. The point is you really need to be able to break down your photos and talk about why one is better than the other.

A few things happen when you start doing this. First of all you will most likely notice you didn't shoot enough. The photo you want is either before or just after you moments that you do have.

Second, you will start to anticipate sooner the moments. Why is this? You now are training yourself to know what to look for in the photo.

Too many people are shooting just nouns and not complete sentences. Photo 3 is a great example of the noun and not a sentence. Yes you could say she is doing something, but notice the difference of having a competitor in the photograph.

The defensive player helps to tell the rest of the story. In photo 3 you have no idea who they are playing. This could be just her warming up before the game, but the other photos show the competition.

Some might argue to use image 5 or 6 because she is shooting. If I didn't have number 2 I would go with those, but I would much prefer to see the battle on the floor for position than the open shot.

This should be happening with all of your photo shoots, not just sports. There is a moment that is best. Stay tuned for other examples.


Brad said...

(I'm from your linked in post)Interesting. I'd pick 1. She is in an active driving postion with the opposing team clearly on defense. Ball carrier is dominate and aggressive. #2 she has the brakes on and the action is stifled. Unflattering moment for the main athlete. No real action in the shots.

Not an ideal action sequence actually, but if you had to have a shot of this athlete, #1.

Slim M. said...

I would pick photo number 1 because there are five elements to the photo. 1. It clearly shows three persons, and identifies the team names (usually insignificant because it will be stated in the by-line) 2. The determination in the face of the ball handler 3. The expressions of the defensive players. 4. Positioning of the ball handler (challenging!) 5. Players shooting the ball are easy to see even during practices, but this dynamic scene works, and shows the players at their best.