Simple Gifts

I am always astounded by the similarities across different cultures and lifestyles and what brings my heart and mind to memories of home. I love capturing those moments that seem to transcend time and space.

At a recent festival in Romania, young children to teenagers were waiting their turn to perform for an enormous crowd of spectators. A couple of other photographers were at the festival and managed to find the backstage waiting/practice area. They proceeded to line the kids up and churn out posed “say cheese” portraits of the kids. I understood their motivation and even indulged a bit on a much less aggressive scale. As someone who loves faces and portraits, the kids were a surreal dream: beautiful Romanians with a sprinkling of Russian and Ukrainian descent sprinkled amongst them.

I needed more than basic smiles and camera-aware portraits, though. The day was partly cloudy, making exposures bounce around crazily. I wanted to be inconspicuous so I chose to store my off-camera flash. I used my new 70-200 f/4 at its shallowest aperture to be able to stand as far back as possible and and still fill my frame. The lens and settings also blurred a sometimes-cluttered background and allowed the beautiful people to stand out.

Blending into the background, I watched the frenetic excitement of the kids and was drawn into another world from another time. My lens followed two girls as one excitedly showed the other a necklace she had received as a gift – the unselfish happiness of a true friend’s response was apparent. A relatable moment was captured forever.

Capturing moments in photography is a choreographed dance between the patient photographer and those subjects who wear their hearts on their sleeves and let their emotions flow forth readily. The reverse is true also: everyone involved needs to be able to get a little lost in the emotion for those magical moments to be captured.

One comment on “Simple Gifts

  1. Great back story Susan. I totally agree with your thoughts about going for the candid portraits as they also, I feel, tell more of a story than the ‘formal’ shots.

    That 70-200 f4 us a great travel lens.

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