Finding the decisive moment.
Deftly integrating yourself into a new situation can be difficult with technical considerations to worry about. Reading people is only part of the situation when you also have to worry about your depth of field, zoom lens, or camera settings. Are you adjusting for low light? Is your shutter speed right? All these factors piling up can be a major hindrance.
“It’s a matter of relaxing,” says Nakamura. “That means developing your technical skills to the point where they’re not at the forefront of your brain all the time. When you get more comfortable with your tools, you’re able to come forward with the higher skills that have to do with adapting yourself to all manner of environments.”
Honing skills and becoming familiar with your equipment is a matter of constant practice. “You have to develop your skills and keep working,” says Nakamura. “As you get more skills, you’re really rewiring your brain around the tools, around the knobs. My fingers work fast because I don’t think about it.” With enough practice, a photographer can work quickly and effortlessly enough to interact with their subjects because they’re not focused on interacting with their tools.
There are no shortcuts to developing your skills to the point that they’re instincts. There’s no single trick to holding a camera, no single bit of hardware or software or advice that will make you instantly good at capturing authentic, candid images. There’s only the work of creating images. Putting in the time taking photos, editing images, and evaluating which ones tell the truth is the one proven way of training yourself to snap a quick picture and make it look candid and effortless.
When you do get to that point, your eye becomes trained to recognize and find authentic moments. “Always be taking photos. Look for those in-between moments,” Marie says. “Always be looking.”