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.
Steamed by David Liam Kyle
“I have photographed numerous sports assignments over my thirty plus years as a photojournalist and have been slowly going through some of my old images. This photo still seems to get the most attention for one of my most unusual feature sports photographs.
I was on assignment for Sports Illustrated shooting the NFL Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns Stadium in the early nineties. It was a cold but sunny day when I noticed steam coming off the head of Philadelphia Eagles football player Antone Davis after he removed his helmet as he left the playing field. The light and positioning at that moment was not conducive to a good photograph so I waited until the next time Davis came off the field and positioned myself so that he would be backlit with the dark shadows of Cleveland Stadium as a clean backdrop. As luck would have it Antone Davis actually walked toward me and looked up at the scoreboard.
I photographed this image with my Nikon F3 film camera and manual focus Nikkor 400mm f/2.8 lens wide open at 1/500th shutter speed on Fujichrome Provia 100 pushed one stop. During the nineties my NFL game equipment usually consisted of four Nikon F3 camera bodies with 50mm, 300mm f/2.8, 400mm f/2.8 and 600mm f/4 Nikkor lenses. Technology has obviously changed over the years. Zoom lenses have replaced the need for numerous lenses and camera bodies and my Lexar compact flash cards have replaced the need for numerous bags of film…but at the end of the assignment you still have to see pictures and capture moments.”
Distractions by Gene X Hwang
“Pinball has become somewhat of a passion of mine, and since it’s a scene that’s seeing a bit of a revival I’ve been bringing my camera out with me quite a bit. One night my friends and I were out in Oakland and heard there were some pinball machines at a nightclub so we ventured inside to find them.
The machines were upstairs in a little area so we decided to play a few games. Apparently it was Brazilian night at the club so a few games in we noticed a few women come upstairs and disappear into a side door. A few minutes later, the same women came out in some sort of Brazilian samba Carnival dance costumes. Kenny, the guy in the red shirt, was playing Fish Tales, but noticed me snapping away behind him so he turned around and at that moment I captured this frame, which I think is hilarious. We may be pinball nerds, but we can get distracted just like any one else!
Beautiful Predator Up-Close by Eleanor Bennett
“As an infant I was told by my Mum that my first word spoken was “owl”. My first and most favourite toy was a tawny owl and I always found comfort in the dark chilly nights where I live (a very rural and lonely place) the hoot of an owl hunting its prey. Only in 2013 did I manage to get my first good animal portraits of a selection of owl species both local to the UK and internationally important. I was allowed to take pictures by a local trust who were in the process of raising money to conserve and educate the public. At another event people were allowed to hold and stroke the owls anyone from the smallest of children to their parents. The animals displayed no apparent stress and it was the highlight to my year to finally capture the beauty of such an efficiently evolved and elegant avian.”