What runs through your mind in that instant you decide to take a photo? That fraction of a second just before the exposure, when the decision is made (sometimes it seems, almost unconsciously); that moment has always fascinated me. What goes on in our heads?
For sure, it’s different from one shot to the next, from one situation to the next. Certainly, from one person to the next. Some photos are planned and some are rehearsed. Some moments are captured in anticipation of some action. Sports photography comes to mind. But there are times when, at least for me, my shutter-firing finger seems to have its own mind. The shutter almost clicks itself. What’s going on there?
In The Zone
I think it comes down to being in “the zone.” Where your mind reaches a state, if only for a second, that takes over the decision-making process. It’s a reaction; a photographer’s instinctual sense of knowing that what’s in front of the camera, at that very moment, is THE thing that matters. All the pieces come together and it happens, almost on its own. You, for just that moment, are witnessing the picture happen, and you’re not standing in the way of it happening.
These moments come about with experience. If you want to take advantage of your innate ability to recognize, in an instant, that the picture is in front of you, you have to know how to let those moments just happen, while still maintaining focus on the necessary parts of the craft. You have to feel confident about letting certain mental decisions fall away to the reflex. It’s about being open to the possibilities and not getting in the way of yourself and the process. When it works, it’s like magic.