When my niece was a little girl, we were walking on the powdery sands of Grand Cayman, and I suggested we stop to watch a soccer game on the beach. When I’m traveling, I love taking photos of people just living their lives, and action shots are a great way to do that. I’ve shot impromptu soccer games in Portovenere and Positano, Italy; in Buenos Aires; and in other gorgeous places. I told Shellie you have to have patience, and not try to follow the ball—it moves too fast for nonprofessional photographers.
Instead, I suggested we compose the shot with the player most likely to get the ball, and just wait, and once it gets close to him, just keep shooting. Shoot; don’t think; don’t plan. I just reminded her of that, and Shellie, now working towards a film degree at the University of Arizona, said, “That’s when you taught me the beauty of an action shot.”
So, a few days ago, when I was on a Makers Air Cessna Grand Caravan from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport to Staniel Cay in the Exumas, I used the same principle. For a while I did shoot out my window at the blue swirls of water, but soon I realized that a lot of people get shots like that—and then I thought that few people get good pilot shots from inside the plane. Rarely do the pilots look at each other. Rarely does the lighting or the tight space work.
But when I saw Brian (captain) and Henry (co-pilot) being so confident, happy and comfortable with each other, I became almost certain that I would get the dual profile, so I just waited. My swivel seat helped me to line up the shot. I nearly got them looking at each other, but that was a vertical. So, I turned the camera for the (better) horizontal, avoiding the unsightly rolls of paper towels at the bottom of the frame, and got the shot—plus the happy accident of an early morning sun flare that lit up the cockpit ethereally, with the reflection of the sunrise on the ceiling. Light is magic. People happy in their work is magic.
Compose in the camera (I hate cropping) and wait for the image to come to you.