Catching the 'decisive moment'

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July 06, 2008|By Julie A. Ferguson | Julie A. Ferguson,Sun photographer

About a month ago I became an intern at The Sun. I had hoped to find myself immersed in different situations and interacting with different people every day, something I don't get much of as a student at the Maryland Institute College of Art. I have been lucky enough to do all this and more.

Photographing people is a challenging and rewarding task. I had always had an interest in the human element of whatever I was shooting, and that was reflected in my pictures. From portraits to abandoned houses to the Lexington Market, I always felt the presence of people, either in that specific moment or long gone.

At the newspaper, most, if not all, assignments involve this human e lement. My assignments have ranged from photographing crystal skulls to school kids to an American Idol-like event called the Howard County Library Teen Idol.

When each contestant took the stage, the room hushed and all one could hear was the sound of the singer's voice. Although these kids were young, they could really sing. It was exciting to see them perform and not show their nerves. I found myself wondering if they had ever performed in front of an audience before or if they were used to the lights and people watching and judging them. I know I would be incredibly nervous.

Over the years of doing photography, I've learned that sometimes the best moments happen after or before the actual event. It is worth arriving early and sticking around late to capture a great image. This image was taken after the awards had been announced and everyone was scattering to their families and friends. I saw the winner, Alyssa Shouse, 13, and her mother, Karen Shouse, hug, and Alyssa had a huge smile on her face.

She had a look of relief as well as excitement, and that emotion was what pulled me in.

A lot of things run through my mind when I'm taking pictures. I'm looking at compositional elements like line, shape and color, as well as the light, the placement of the objects and people and the angles I can take a picture from. I am also looking for that perfect moment, or as Henri Cartier-Bresson would say, "the decisive moment." When you capture a great moment and everything else falls together, it is a wonderful feeling for a photographer.


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