August 7, 2011

Photo Tip: Don't Forget to Look Behind You

Unless you do studio work where conditions can be controlled, it is always a challenge to be at the right place at the right time to capture magical scenes with your camera. You never know when fleeting moments are going to present themselves. And sometimes they are happening right there around you, but they are missed because of a lack of focus or your attention is on a different subject altogether. You have to be ready. Vigilant! And remember to look behind you.

The photograph above illustrates this tip. It is one of series that I took of this darling little girl, walking through a field of tall grass, leisurely picking a handful of dandelions to give to her mom. I would have never anticipated this scene and captured these precious moments in time if I had not simply turned around 180 degrees.  

Of all places, this particular moment in time was at the Large Animal Research Station, in Fairbanks, Alaska. We were there to photograph muskoxen, caribou, and reindeer. Unfortunately, the double-walled fence, along with restrictive barriers that keep you back several feet from the fencing, made it extremely challenging to take any decent pictures of the animals. Some of us decided to go up to the top of an outdoor amphitheater to see if we could get a view over the tall fence. That strategy was satisfactory for the animals that were located off in the distance.  

Since my knee replacement, I have to admit that I am a bit preoccupied with the potential of falling down. I make sure of my footing so I don’t take a tumble. When I carefully adjusted my stance at the top of the amphitheater, I happened to glance and notice what was going on behind me. In an overgrown field next to the visitor’s trail was this little girl, picking a dandelion bouquet. It was a precious and picturesque moment that would have totally escaped me if I had not simply looked. It would have been an opportunity lost, and I would have been none the wiser.  

The moral of the story is that there are times when you think the best subject matter is in front of you. But it could actually be right behind you. You just have to remember to look.


  1. HI Donna, I signed up to follow you and your adventures.. We have alot in common. I too had knee surgery in June of 2010 (just a torn meniscus) --but I too am concerned about falling...

    Love your El Malpais photos/posts... We went out west for the first time in June --and want to go back. There's so much to see out there... We also hope to go to Alaska sometime.. In September, we are taking a 2-week trip to the New England area to see the Fall colors, covered bridges and light houses!!!!! Should be fun!

    We just got home from a short trip to the Asheville area. We have season's tickets to Biltmore --and love to go there every month or two --to see the changes. We also drove the Blue Ridge Parkway --and went up to Mt. Mitchell (where it was a wonderful 64 degrees)...This was my birthday trip!!!!

    So glad you are home --and I can't wait to see more from Alaska... We need to meet sometime... I signed up to follow you so that I wouldn't miss any of your great blog posts.

  2. so true, donna.....i need to remember that and also to look at what is IN the photos i take....a lot of times i am so fixed on getting the moment that i don't pay attention to ALL that i am getting in the photo...thank goodness for cropping etc.....LOVE the photo...what a moment!!!

  3. As soon as your blog loaded I was in awe of your beautiful header! And know I know the story :)
    Just precious....
    xo, misha

  4. So cute! And you are one smart photographer, no question. :)
    Hugs, Jackie

  5. At first, I thought that was you as a little girl. Well, it could have been!

    Such a precious moment, indeed. :)

  6. excellent advice and glad you caught site of that scene. It really is a lovely shot

  7. Oh that her mama could have the photo as well as the dandelions. What a sweet picture and a great life lesson!

  8. Sweet, sweet photo!! I love it when you just happen to be at the right place and moment... I love this!!!

  9. This is SO true! Thanks for the reminder! The little girl shot is Beautiful Donna!!! LOVE it!!!

    PS- I have to go to Rotary meeting today with Hubby to hear Congressman Bill Flores speak...I'll be Sure to look behind me because IF I get the chance, he's going to get an Earfull!

  10. PS- LOVE THE Header and template!! Gorgeous!

  11. “Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.”
    Dorothea Lange

    One of my favorite quotes, that feeling you get when you have captured something wonderful. This is a sweet picture!

  12. Just another example of how photography makes you see the world and your surroundings differently.

    I think that's the first time I've ever seen a picture of a person on your blog! Except the adorable Donna-as-a-little-girl in your sidebar.

    Precious indeed!

  13. Just popping in to catch up with what you've been doing and to see your glorious photos!

  14. what a lovely shot donna!..and yes.always best to follow caution post knee mom didn' down on her knees to scrub her floor 2 years later, bent a pin in the prothetic device, and had to have it all done over again. ( her kneee sounded like a squeaky hinge! LOL)

  15. It looks like it could be a picture of YOU as a child! I noticed the new banner right away! Very insightful...makes me stop and think! ♥

  16. What a beautiful image of a simple and quiet moment. Good advice. I'll have to remember that.


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