One of a photographer’s greatest enemies is patience. The difference between a snapshot and a photograph is the ability to see the potential of the image, not necessarily the image that is in front of the camera at the exact moment of framing.
While taking family trips in Missouri, I’m always looking for eye-catching scenes that might make good magazine images. It’s something that doesn’t always please my wife, and even my kids sometimes take it upon themselves to join mom in admonishing me about using family time for business. During one such trip to Grant’s Farm, near St. Louis, I thought I would take advantage of the opportunity to build an image library for a future article. The main problem was that, despite the fact that our visit was in mid-April, it was rainy and quite chilly. There was little color as a long winter had delayed nature’s painting of the landscapes.
The most obvious photographic opportunities were provided by the variety of wildlife found throughout the park; however, shooting those animals (perhaps shooting is the wrong terminology) required cooperation with the photo’s subject. A number of peacocks were walking freely throughout the park. Capturing an image with some “wow” factor posed problems, as the environment the birds were walking through was wet, dull and downright ugly—not the kind of image that jumps from the page of a magazine. It would have been very easy to snap a few photos of this male peacock as he walked about (which is what most people around me did), but I knew that the peacock fanned its tail feathers during courtship. I didn’t really know whether it was mating season, but since it was the spring, it seemed logical that this bird might have that little twinkle in his eye. As others stopped briefly to take one more photo of one more animal, I just squatted on the ground with the camera to my eye, moving occasionally to keep this guy in the frame. Another bird that padded behind me apparently was “the one” for my friend, as he immediately spread his tail feathers, providing about 10 seconds to capture a photo for which I had waited nearly 15 minutes.
Gary Figgins is owner and publisher of Show-Me Missouri, a statewide travel magazine that features Missouri travel destinations and attractions. Gary’s photographs fill the pages of this publication, often with beautiful double-page spreads featuring the outdoors. See http://www.showmemissouri.net/