Making that Winning Shot!


Recently, one of my photos was featured in a photo competition by photocrowd and was subsequently carried by The Telegraph in the UK.

A lot of you would have asked, how this the picture came about? Fluke shot? The only way to tell is to look at a photographer's workflow or raw reel. From here you can tell what he was seeing. I had the pleasure of seeing these raw workflow from Michael Yamashita of NG and Michael Freeman when working with Sony Asia Pacific. And from this, you can tell where they were hitting and framing their shots.

This is something that most photographers do not want to share with you, choosing only the shortlisted or best shots. So you never learn what really happened.

Video of the Shots in Action

This was captured about five years ago, in Macau during the annual Grand Prix meet and the girls in the paddock were all strutting their wares (sponsor logos) and in it, I could not believe the number of photographers on hand to capture what was going on.

So throughout the three days, I was actually busy capturing content for a iPhone app and for that, there were lots to see and do.

The workflow for the winning shot is seen in the video enclosed and there was a few misses when people walked onto the frame, which happens very often.

When you are working in a hot and crowded environment, things are expected to go wrong, and with people walking all over the place, this is bound to happen.

A photo opportunity is missed because someone walked in, not caring if they were in frame and out again and as you wait for the moment to clear, that moment is history. You never get your shot.

This is why in digital, you have the option of working fast.

Angle of the frame is very important as you can see from the workflow shots in the video. In the shortest time possible, you have to nail this. And this isn't just from the perspective you want, that is on eye level.

Most of the time, photographers see scenes only from eye level. Sure you can have a variety of shots by zooming your lens in and out to frame it but going higher and lower is to me, your sense of perspective. This is what the photographer's eye is all about.

The camera I was using, a G1 from Panasonic didn't have that freedom as it was the first generation M43 sensors. I still love this camera and use it once in a while. It's dated of course, with a 12 megapixel sensor, my smartphone is a Galaxy Note 4 with 16 megapixels. So that's how far behind technology from yesteryears is.

I tried to make several shots of different crops. One was without the photographers in the picture, the others included them in various angles. The winning shot was cropped as there was someone walking right into frame.

Because the girls themselves were the main subject, the background became secondary. You basically shifted the main subject from across the frame, from center to off center to see how it works.

You cropped tight, and wide both while maintaining the perspective of the models. Remember when shooting such scenes, the environment is very fluid. They can be posing like they are now but not later. So no two scenes are going to be the same even if the models are hanging around the paddock area all the time.

Fortunately, the Sun was shining brightly, and into my LCD display which made it difficult to shoot. The color of the wings and attire just jumped out of the picture. So this was the main reason why it looked good. 

Stock Options?

The other thing is that, the photo itself has no commercial value if you include photographers in the picture, including the models' faces also means your photo is pretty much worthless when the faces are identifiable. This is main reason why I took the shot, one of the photographers shooting them for editorial value, the others without the photographers for stock image value.

To further enhance the image stock value, you have to personally remove the logos on the model's attire. A process I have yet to find time to do.

So if you happen to chance upon moments like this, think first about the sort of photos you wish to capture. Include both editorial and stock image possibilities as who knows? You might get lucky.