The Tear: When Photography Captures A Moment

Event Photography Captures Natchez Moment

Event Photography Captures a Real Moment


I’m not sure why she shed her tears.

Busy working the crowd at the 2016 Sheriff’s Deputy Rodeo, I scanned the audience for photo opportunities. I primarily looked for the reactions of people to the show, especially the children. Often children display the most gregarious emotional responses to the action and the entertainment. To that point, success had been mine in capturing the faces of smiles, wonder, awe, and curiosity that those enraptured, innocent ones are so adept at displaying. Then suddenly, one face that stood out. Her’s was different than all the rest. A small child with a face, with warm tears streaming down her cheek.


Focusing In On the Face

Faces, with their eyes, are immediate producers of our attention. Hers got mine. This small face did not display anger or frustration, the sort one often sees in fit-throwing, twisted face tantrums. No. This was a quiet cry. These were tears that had leaked out of a little body because of some unknown hurt, disappointment, or pain. I raised my camera to invade the moment, and that’s when she perceived me. She turned and looked straight into my lens.

I took a string of exactly four images of her, and the one shown is the first. In the others, a woman that I can only guess is her mother puts her arm around her and comforts her. In the last, I see a partial figure of a male child standing in front of her, and the mother is looking at him. Perhaps he is her brother, and maybe he did or said something that caused her to cry in one of those sibling kind of ways. Who knows?


Emotional Images In Time & Space & What Motivates Me In Capturing Them

I can only tell you that this is the kind of photographic image that can definitely move me. There are many kinds of images that can do that for me as a photographer that is capturing the image. But I must say that human emotion in the human face, especially with eye contact, presented in a serious way, is one of the quickest ways of doing so. That leads me to say this: I don’t really take images for other people … or maybe it’s more accurate to say it like this: I do not take images with other people or viewers in mind. I take them to move myself.

This is my goal even when I am hired to do work. Sure, I have the end-user and end-usage in mind. And of course I want to please the client and meet the goal of what they need for the image. But with this in mind, ultimately I take … no I make … the image for myself.

This may sound selfish or self-centered at first glance, but really it is not. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It is simply me working to capture an image that I think is worth more than just a casual glance – even by me of my own work. I don’t know how else to attempt a serious work of image art. If it doesn’t move me, how can I expect it to move anyone else?

Human emotion. Sometimes it is rapture, glee, the glow of victory, happiness, laughter, love, admiration, and triumph … but at other times it is a face with pain, hurt, sadness, loneliness, disappointment, defeat, and even despair. Occasionally, unfortunately it is evil, malevolent, and violent.

My motivation is to move the viewer – myself and you – and draw us in for more than one nanosecond for a closer look into another human being’s story.

That’s what makes us human to begin with – sharing stories.


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