It’s all in the timing
Action in any scene calls on the usual speed skills of reaction, anticipation and choice of exact moment
W henever there’s movement and action, there’s always one moment that will be, for each photographer, the most special. And of course what that moment contains and looks like will depend on your taste. It will also depend on what you’re able to capture, not just in terms of how fast and reactive you are, but in terms of whether you get the sort of worthwhile moment that happens just once (as in our main image, right), or one that’s similar to multiple others. In any case, given that the main idea of this creative path is that you have an activity happening within a scene that you’ve already found and framed, you could think of it as a little like a cinemagraph – where you have a static scene containing a small area of live action, usually generated as an animated GIF. In other words, it’s contained action, so it calls for a slightly different way of paying attention to what’s going on in the viewfinder, focusing on a detail.
In the case of these Khmer dancers (right), the situation itself was definitely worth shooting without any expectation of some special action. The troupe was performing in one of the largest old stone temples in Angkor, Cambodia, called Preah Khan, in the so-called Hall of the Dancers, which is said to have been built for such performances in the 13th century. Behind-the-scenes action at any theatrical performance is good value for the camera, and I was taking full advantage. It all looked colourful and atmospheric; so far, so good. Then in the third frame of the run-up images (shown smaller, top-right) the beginnings of a spat between two young performers appeared. That primed my attention for the moment to come.
Whenever there’s movement and action, there’s always one moment that will be, for each photographer, the most special
A moment of young diva drama turned a reasonably interesting behind-thescenes shot into something much more amusing.