The Human Element

strawberry fieldWhat makes a good snapshot? Is it the candid nature of it? Is it the unplanned capturing of a moment in time that nobody else will be able to capture again? Or is it simply capturing a slice of life to have forever frozen on a digital canvas? I have been thinking through this a lot lately as I have been working on developing this in my own photography.

You may already know, but Chase Jarvis is currently curating a gallery at the Ace Hotel in NYC called Dasein-An invitation to Hang. The beauty of this is that it’s a gallery celebrating the snapshot and the photos are not just his, but are his mixed with ones from photographers around the world. Anyone is able and encouraged to contribute to this project.

As I have been challenging myself in this to create captivating snapshots, it has forced me to think about the elements that go into such a photograph. As much as I hate arguing about semantics, I do feel there is a difference between a snapshot and a composed photograph. A composed photograph (not talking about composition of a photograph) is a shot where you have an idea in mind that you would like to capture, you set out with that vision and you aim to capture it. A snapshot is where you may or may not have an idea, and you capture the things taking place in front of you. They may be seemingly random, or they may have a theme. You could take 20 pictures and possibly have nothing in common between each of them.

So as I have been working on getting snapshots, I have enjoyed the creative challenge. I have been forced to look at the world around me not for the familiar, but for the things that I have been staring at and missing. I have been forced to really think about what I am putting into the frame as I am pressing the shutter. One of those elements is the human element.

This is a topic that receives much discussion, and for a good reason. I find that pictures with a human element have a different feel and connectivity than those without. I think that when we see a person in the photograph, we have the opportunity to connect in one way or another with that picture. The picture has a tangible element because we can feel, in some ways, the emotions of the subject. What are they doing? What emotions are they experiencing? What story are they telling? Capturing the human element allows for the photographer to capture a piece of who we all are in a frame to later connect with others who were not there to experience the moment.

What makes a good snapshot? Anything really, but I know for me, I am working hard to create pictures that connect with others, tell a story, and evoke a response of sorts, and as I work toward this the human element is a crucial aspect of my photography.