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Behind the Shot

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.

Selfie by Gene X Hwang

“After the San Francisco Giants won the World Series in 2012, the city was abuzz with the excitement of another championship. The parade was a huge celebration, and it ended at City Hall where many dignitaries were on hand. There was a piano out front that it turns out was for Tony Bennett who sang his iconic “I Left my Heart in San Francisco” to the packed crowds. This moment happened right after he took a bow on stage. Giants reliever Sergio Romo was just as much a fan of Bennett and took a selfie onstage with the musical icon. ”


Three Generations by David Jordan Williams

“This triple portrait of Robbie Robertson, his son Sebastian and Sebastian’s son Dylan sprang out of a portrait I had taken of Robbie with his eyes closed back in 1995 as part of a project I worked on with Robbie titled “Music For The Native Americans.” The portrait became somewhat iconic for Robbie.

Recently I had his son Sebastian over to the studio for a portrait session with his son Dylan. We were shooting, and Sebastian looked at me and we almost simultaneously said “Let’s try one with my eyes closed and head up.” The result was a portrait that had a very similar feel to the one of Robbie. We then thought, why don’t we do the same with Dylan. Well, that portrait had the same impact, and I thought it would be interesting to put the three portraits together in one image. I spent a bit of time composing and balancing the three heads and shoulders, and it just jumped off the screen. I call the piece “Three Generations.” I love it.”


Crystal Fighters Cave Rave by Martin Hobby

“This was my first time working abroad; I was commissioned by a UK music magazine to fly to Spain and photograph Crystal Fighters play a “Rave in a Cave.” How could I refuse?

The rave took place in a village called Zugarramurdi in the Spanish Pyrenees. The journalist and I travelled out to the site with people from the band’s record label, and a couple of the DJs who were playing as well. I think I left home around 7 a.m. and after a car journey, flight, taxi and then a few hours on a coach we finally arrived at our destination in the late afternoon.

I had an AAA (Access All Areas) pass so I was allowed backstage before the show. We met and interviewed the band, and I took a few portrait shots of them against the beautiful natural cave setting. Then it was show time.

As anyone who shoots music knows, the general rule is “three songs, no flash,” and even though this event was taking place in an unusual venue that rule remained, so after the first three songs, myself and the other photographers were ushered off the rocks in front of the stage.