Capturing moments: sacred, personal, life-changing, and emotional

Woman prayingWoman prayingPeople prayingMan prayingMan praying

As documentary photographers trying to capture intimate moments in people’s lives, we are often striving to be as invisible as possible — the proverbial “fly on the wall.” We move slowly in and out of moments sacred, personal, life-changing, and emotional.

A sudden move on our part, a cough, a phone ring, or the worst offender — the click of our camera’s shutter — can ruin a moment and distract our subject.

I was hired to cover a conference on prayer and knew from past experience that the group not only wanted photos of the speakers, but also photos of people praying, real moments, up close and personal.

Just a few weeks prior, before getting Sony cameras, I was in a similar intimate shoot and had been asked to stop because of my shutter clicks. And to be honest, I could not blame them. In the quiet moments I was shooting, the clicks were as obtrusive as if I had jumped up and yelled, “Look at me.”

The silent shutters in the Sony A7RII‘s and 6300’s are an awesome tool that allow me to get close while not disturbing people in their intense moments. The shutters are silent. I don’t mean just quiet…they are silent. What a great game-changing tool!

PS There are two caveats to using the silent shutter. One, dynamic range is reduced, but this has not been a real visible problem for me. The other is banding in your image caused by the flickering of certain light sources like fluorescent tubes. Just be cautious when first switching to silent shutter and look carefully at a test shot. If there is going to be a problem, you will see it.

All photos and text ©Copyright Gary S. Chapman 2016
(Sony A7RII, 70-200mm f4 @200mm, 1/20 sec, f4, ISO 12800) YES…it was very dark!
(Sony A7RII, 35mm f1.4, 1/100 sec, f1.4, ISO 3200)
(Sony A7RII, 35mm f1.4, 1/100 sec, f1.4, ISO 5000)
(Sony A7RII, 70-200mm f4 @113mm, 1/200 sec, f4, ISO 6400)
(Sony A7RII, 70-200mm f4 @101mm, 1/125 sec, f4, ISO 6400)

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