How to Take an Unforgettable Photo
Great shots come from having fun and feeling the moment. Here, Lange shares the stories behind the greatest moments he's captured.
My camera has taken me all over the world, but much more than that, it has taken me into myself and allowed me to share what I’m feeling. I was lucky to have a childhood filled with love, friendship, and community, and from the beginning, I wanted to capture that joy in photography. Most important is the process of listening, seeing, touching—and appreciating all the beauty and passion in our everyday lives.
If I had to pick one word to describe the things I shoot, it would be connections. I’m interested in the connections among all the people in my life: grandparents, teachers, children, strangers. Among everyone who ever sat on our porch or swung in our hammock. Between dogs and their owners, shoes and the dance, between my first kiss (and whom I kissed) and my most recent. Everyone has these connections, and finding new ways to see them is, I believe, finding new ways to live them.
In the end, an unforgettable photograph isn’t the most technically proficient or artistic. It’s the one that makes the deepest, most intimate connection to the moment so that the viewer feels it.
Put Babies in odd places
I was in Pittsburgh during the spring magnolia explosion. No one was around, so I laid my son down on a stranger’s property. Trespassing with a camera is generally not a problem (especially with a baby!); at worst, people are curious.
Do the unexpected
This photo was part of a series I shot to promote the TV show Cake Boss. It was fun to do! You can try something like this with a willing friend posing against a dark wall. Flour doesn’t have to be your medium: Try pouring leaves, confetti, or tempera paint powder.
Catch the casual
I was at a wedding in the park. It started to rain, and this girl was running. I shot her coming and going, but this instant when she turned reveals her delight. It helps to have a camera that can shoot several frames a second!
Create a mystery
This picture is of my wife, Stephie, and a wonderful claw-foot tub and our time together on a vacation. But for anyone who wasn’t there, it’s a mystery. Is the person in the tub relaxing? Naked? Alive? Stories like this happen all the time. It depends on feeling and seeing the moment.
The Unforgettable Photograph, Copyright © 2013 by George Lange and Scott Mowbray, is published at $16.95 by Workman Publishing Co., Inc., workman.com.