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Guide to Photography Part 3: Moment

Waiting for the right time is crucial for a good photo

You've learnt about framing and light already, now it's time to combine these two with the perfect timing, creating the "moment".


While the right framing and light help to boost your photo, great timing helps to enhance it even further. A sunset shot at the beach is beautiful on its own, but a sunset shot at the beach with the silhouette of a child running across the shore would be amazing. Typically, the "moment" works well with street photography, but it can work well when including landscapes too. This guide will give you an idea of what kind of moment to anticipate when taking a photo.

Animal Portraits

Taking a photo of an animal is obviously more difficult than of a person, because of its unpredictable movements. Often, animals need to be coaxed or lured into a certain position that aligns with the light and your framing. Then what? Imagine the position of the animal you want to photograph, such as crouching, lying down on its back, or opening its mouth. It might take a while for the animal to assume the desired position, but patience is key — as with all shots that require timing. However, the last thing you should do is to provoke the animal, because that would be detrimental to your cause.

In the photo below, I found a cat with stunning blue eyes and I wanted to capture that, so I played with it and it responded to my hand movements. I then moved my hand in front of my lens and removed it and took the shot quickly while the cat was still looking right into the camera.

Street Photography

This is one of the more difficult types of photography to master. Everything on the street is transitional, and nothing stays the same for more than a second. This is especially so in a busy country like Japan. A good point to remember when attempting street photography is to know your framing if you spot a good background. On the streets, many people will be walking by and if you have a good frame in mind, wait until the right moment e.g. when a person walks into the frame, or when the clouds clear and a ray of light shines through. From personal experience, many amazing street photos also come from the luck of being in the right place at the right time.

In the photo below, the background and light were perfect, and I only had to wait for someone to cross the tracks. I like my photos to have only one subject, or else it might become messy as viewers will not know where to focus.

While street photography may not be everyone's cup of tea, the "moment" is still essential in other kinds of photos. Many times, it can be as simple as when the crowd clears so you have a clean shot of something without people in it. Truly eye-catching photos combine the three techniques of light, framing, and moment, but that comes with practice. Hopefully, this series of guides has helped you to take better photos!

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Kim 4 years ago
I'm really enjoying your pieces about photography - they make me really think more about the pictures I take and how I can make them more eye catching to the viewer.
Ignatius Koh Author 4 years ago
Hi Kim, I'm happy you like these! These are really just the basics that's easy for anyone to follow. Hopefully I can think of more to write but for now I think these three are sufficient to improve!
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