If I am lucky, I make a dozen pictures a year that I like. This quiet moment is one of my favorites from 2019.
While attending a small family memorial for my father, who died the year before, and after spreading his ashes on a small mountain of rocks topped with an old cross, I followed my aunts, Betty and Alice—both in their 80s—as they shuffled to the house. The tilt of their bodies and the supporting hand from Betty on her older sister’s back says more about losing their oldest brother and how they, too, are nearing the end of their life journeys than any of the images I made of the ceremony or group photos afterward. In a real sense, this picture represents my photo signature: a quiet, subtle storytelling image of comfort and compassion.
I have found the best stories are often in the shadows of life, away from big events and spotlights. For me, the smallest, often unnoticed gestures speak the most about the human experience.
This is one time it helped to be taller than my photo subjects, which allowed me to somewhat clean up the background and avoid bad compositional mergers. I shoot more pictures from my knees or below than standing upright, and have always felt shorter photographers have an advantage, especially when it comes to getting low to clean up backgrounds.
See if you can make a candid image where touch helps tell the story. Watch body language closely to anticipate where important and storytelling touch will happen.
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