A picture is worth a thousand words, sure. But have you ever wondered what was reeling in the minds of the photographer as soon as they released the shutter? We asked several photographers to share their personal favorite shots and the stories behind them. From pulling all-nighters to capture the best lighting to traveling the corners of the globe to touching life tales of their subjects, here’s proof that there’s much more to a photo than simply pointing and shooting. Here, three seasoned photographers recount what it took to get that perfect shot.
Flamingos in Lake Nakuru by Bala Murali
“The 24th of February in 2011 became an unforgettable day in my life. I live in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. On the 24th, I went to Nakuru for a business meeting. Nakuru is about 140 km from Nairobi, and it has a beautiful bird sanctuary called Lake Nakuru National Park. Lake Nakuru is situated right inside the park, which is a home for thousands and sometime millions of flamingos.
Usually I travel with my camera wherever I go, whether it is an official tour or a personal one. Therefore, I decided to visit the park for bird shooting as soon as I finished my meeting. I entered the park around 2 p.m., and was looking like a good location to park my car and shoot the flamingos and white pelicans.
All of the sudden, I saw lot of smoke spreading throughout the park. It took me a few minutes to realize that there was a wild fire in the park, and the smoke was spreading fast. For a moment, I thought of leaving the park to get to a safer place. Then, while looking around I happened to see hundreds of flamingos and white pelicans trapped in the park amidst the fast spreading smoke. From their movement I could feel that they did not realize what was happening and they just got confused and started gathering at one spot. I immediately dropped my plan of escaping and started shooting them with the smoke in the background.”
Cape Town Mama by Tracey Hill
“I took this photo in Cape Town, South Africa. It’s not perfectly composed, and the camera was not perfectly set up, but I love it and have a large metal print of it in my studio. Here is how it happened.
While on holiday in Cape Town I saw this lady walk by and grabbed my camera and ran after her, but she refused to have her photo taken as everyone always asks her to pose. I begged and pleaded, eventually explaining I was born in South Africa myself and she would remind me of home. Local street traders who I had brought goods from earlier started helping and begging her. She suddenly said, ‘you get one click, quick!’ and this was my one click.”
Aldershot Memorial by Andy Taylor
“While I was still as serving soldier I was taking a City and Guilds course in photography as part of my resettlement back into civilian life. It was raining, and as I drove back I noticed how fantastic the sky looked behind this memorial and Normandy Barracks (closed down by then) in the background. I could even see my old office.
I had a limited angle to take this from as to one side there was a parked van and the other was an open trench for the water main repairs. Behind me was a busy road (at rush hour, of course). The weather was changing, so I had to take this quickly before I lost the drama in the sky. I used on-camera flash to fill in the details on the memorial.
In the end this photo got me my first digital wedding shoot as the bride and groom met in Aldershot in the barracks behind the memorial. The memorial reads:
In memory of
Leut Reginald Archibald Cammell
Air Battalion Royal Engineers
Who lost his life
while flying an aeroplane at
on the 17th September 1911
This Obelisk was erected by his
in recognition of his services to military aviation”