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.
Touched by the Light by Shelley Paulson
“Creating portraits of people with their beloved horses is my passion. As a horse owner and lover myself, I know what it is to have a special bond with one of these breathtaking animals.
Last summer, I had the delight of photographing a bubbly young woman named Lyndsay, and her handsome horse Teddy. I was initially working in an area of open shade, with rich shades of green for my background. A car drove by on a gravel road on the other side of those trees and what happened next was nothing short of magical.
As the dust slowly crept through the trees, ethereal rays of light appeared. By the time I noticed what was happening, I was too late to position Lyndsay and her horse where I wanted them in relation the light. I knew another car could go by, or that her mom could drive her car down that road, so I took a few moments to pick the spot where I wanted to place them the next time it happened.
I continued the session for a few minutes, and sure enough, another car drove by. I was prepared this time, so it took little effort to move Lyndsay and Teddy to the pre-determined location where I proceeded to create a series of images that made me literally jump with joy! It was one of those moments where all that I have learned up to that point met just the conditions to create an image that will forever be a favorite!”
Gannet Change Over by Will Nicholls
“Home to around 150,000 gannets, Bass Rock in the UK is a popular attraction for wildlife fanatics. However, with rough seas surrounding the isolated rock it can be very difficult to successfully land. In fact, it took two years of attempting a trip there for me to actually make it onto the rock!
Upon landing, I was greeted by the snapping beaks of these large seabirds, and the constant calling from all the birds. This image shows two gannets reaffirming their bond; they bat their beaks together in courtship. The gannet on the right has been away from the nest, fishing at sea, and is subsequently completely clean. The gannet on the left is muddy from sitting on the nest all day, and will swap over duties with its partner.”
Heart Gallery Portrait by Laura Tillinghast
“While living in south Florida, I was lucky to be a volunteer photographer for the Heart Gallery, an organization who uses the power of photography to help children living in foster care. I can’t stress enough what a positive experience this was.
I had a great time getting to know the kids I photographed and talking to them about their plans for the future. About a year later I received a package in the mail. When I opened it I found a letter from one of the girls I had photographed. Who had since been adopted. She wanted to thank me for the photos I took of her. She was about 14 at the time of the shoot and wrote in her letter that the portraits I took made her feel beautiful and before that day she had never thought of herself that way. It brought tears to my eyes and I realized how much impact you can make as a photographer without ever knowing it.”