PEOPLE IN ACTION
When you photograph people in action, such as in
sports and at work, the name of the game is anticipation,
staying alert, and expecting the unexpected. Covering
action events becomes an exercise in guesstimating
where the action will take place and firing the shutter at
the right moment.
A good action photographer relies on his knowledge
of the event taking place; for example, if you will be
photographing a General Quarters (GQ) drill and the
principal players are going to be the Hull Maintenance
Technicians, you could take a crash course in the job
they will be performing during GQ. You might even
observe them going through the drill a day or two before
it is time to photograph them. Like a sports
photographer-you must know the rules of the game.
Even if you cannot learn the game, a photographer that
understands the principles of shooting people in action
can do a good job by following a few simple rules:
Anticipate the action. Watch for the unexpected
Know the mechanical functions of your camera
equipment. Practice aiming, focusing, and shooting
until they become reflex actions. This leaves your mind
free to concentrate on the event.
Learn something about the action you plan to
The best pictures of people usually have action,
implied or apparent. The action should be appropriate to
the subject of the picture. The cook, for example, should
not be shown in the boiler room (unless for a special
reason or effect). Even a posed picture can have plenty
of action and interest and not seem at all posed.
Artificial, stiff effects kill the picture. Avoid static, dull
pictures of groups staring directly into the camera Plan
and shoot for action, such as applause shots or a speaker
making gestures, or shots of an audience's facial
reactions. Break up the overall scene into small groups
of action, such as shots of important persons talking, the
guest of honor shaking hands with others, and so forth.
Even an attitude or arrangement of hands, feet, head, and
shoulders often creates action. There is action in
everyday living, in working, eating, drinking, smiling,
arguing, driving, flying, sailing, and swimming. It is not
so easy to capture action in still photographs, but by
understanding the importance of action in a picture and
the abundance of action available everywhere, you will
soon become proficient at recognizing and picturing it.
The blur technique has become popular for advertising
and illustration use. Panning the camera with the action
of a moving subject keeps the subject fairly sharp while
blurring the background in a horizontal sweep, and this
gives the feeling of action. A slow shutter speed is
needed. Try the technique and see the interesting results.
A photo should have emotional mood and impact
that can be accomplished by actual movement of a
physical nature. The head may be raised in victory or
joy or lowered in despair and sadness. The body sagging
or the body squared away indicates different moods.
Arms on the hips can indicate swagger, arrogance, or
confidence. Hands in pockets indicate relaxation, or at
the sides, may show formality. Knowing the elements of
action, how to recognize them, and what moods they
convey permits you to click the shutter at the right
instant when you recognize outstanding action
happening. The shooting angle, lighting, and
composition all contribute to a feeling of action.
Action should always be photographed at its peak
(fig. 6-5). This is a matter between the photographer and
the photographers own well-developed sense of
motion. A highly capable photographer knows with
certainty, at the instant he or she shoots, whether the
picture will be a good one or not. This does not come
from occasional picture taking but from steady,
The majority of the job orders your imaging facility
receives will probably be in support of providing
photographic documentation for command functions.
Photographic assignments that fall into this category are
reenlistments, retirements, change of
commands, awards presentations, and VIP (Very
Important Person) visits. Some of the larger imaging
facilities provide a photo mailer service whereby
amateur photographers take snapshots of their
command functions and forward the film to the imaging
facility for processing. For those Photographer's Mates
that are fortunate enough to cover these photographic
assignments, high quality and professional service and
products are imperative for the continued success of
customer service and satisfaction.
To provide the best photographs possible, you must
apply all of the principles and techniques discussed
previously in this TRAMAN. Proper planning,
composition, and lighting must be applied regardless of
how routine you feel the job may be. Some general
guidelines are as follows:
Always use bounce flash whenever possible.