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.
Starry Night by Adam Edwards
“This shot was over a year in the making from conception to execution. There were only a few days each month when attempting the image was possible, as to get good star visibility it’s best to shoot around a new moon. A clear night is also a must and for several months prior to making this image the two never coincided. This particular night, however, ticked all the right boxes, and I remember how excited I was to finally give it a try. Perhaps a little too excited because I rushed out the door shortly after sunset, drove the 15 miles to the location, and immediately realized I had forgotten my tripod. Oops! Attempting to improvise a makeshift support, I messed around with my bag and coat for the better part of an hour before giving up and heading home under a tantalizingly starry night sky.
Back home, I gathered a few provisions, threw some tunes on my phone, and headed back out around 11:30 p.m., determined to make the most of the opportunity. After about an hour of experimenting with various points of view, camera settings, and lighting methods, I had formulated a game plan involving a variety of light sources, much running around, and a healthy amount of dance music blaring from my pocket. I must have looked quite the sight having my little one-man rave and shining lights around on the hilltop, but fortunately (as far as I know anyway), nobody was around to witness my madness. I eventually made it home around 3 a.m., smile on face, satisfied with the knowledge I finally had something to show for my efforts.“
Executives on the Beach by David Jordan Williams
“I was in the process of working up a series for my Getty Images collection on the subject of business, and as usual I had certain imagery plotted and planned. At the same time, I was trying to be open to the possibility of having a muse on my shoulder as I went about my work week. As luck would have it I did. The previous week I had shot business people from a distance and had an interesting set of tiny figures in coats and with cases walking about. This week I was with my wife coming back from a day out looking at art and we stopped at an unfamiliar stretch of beach that seemed to have interesting rock formations. We were there for a while, and as we walked back to the car, late in the afternoon, I happened to notice the light beautifully cutting across those rocks and producing the illusion of the rock forms being much larger than they actually were. This resulting image is actually of an area about 12 feet long by eight feet wide, yet it looks like a vast valley of crags and cliffs. I thought, ‘What a perfect place to have those little executives walking around in’ and with a little help from Photoshop, the illusion was complete.”
Little Umbrellas by Sara Kauss
“There’s something to be said about a photographer’s vision. We are creative, we want to put to life a concept, and we want our images to tell a story.
My good friend and amazing country music artist Sarah Darling and I had a shoot scheduled in California. Sarah and her team wanted images for her next album that were bright, colorful, girly and unique. Right before our California shoot, Sarah played a song for me she had just written called Little Umbrellas. The song wasn’t on the album yet; in fact, it was just coined and not even a consideration for the record. But I thought about how fun, colorful and bright a shoot with all these different sized, shaped and colored umbrellas would be for her album, whether she included the track on the record or not.
Fast forward to our shoot in California. We rented the Santa Monica Pier for our shoot, styled her in a fun wardrobe, and used about 25 different sized and colored paper parasols. Although the day was amazing, it was so incredibly windy that after all our efforts, the lightweight paper parasols ended up just blowing around in the wind, and some even blew away. We did get photos of Sarah by the Santa Monica Pier ferris wheel, on the beach with fun balloons, walking down the pier, but no umbrella photos.
Fast-forward to last year, when Sarah’s Little Umbrellas became a sensational summer single! Her management contacted me and said we needed to do a shoot to promote the single. You can imagine how incredibly excited I was. I still had all the paper parasols in my closet, ready to be used for a shoot, and we did it!
The moral to my story is, don’t let anything come in the way of making your vision a reality! There may be obstacles in the way, and it may take a year to accomplish, but keep dreaming and your creative idea will flourish.”