Timing is Everything

The reason I decided to paste my blog post on this picture is because of the moment. I, along with Stephanie, and Christina have seen some of the best sunsets of my life while driving. And there seems to be no shortage of watercolor skies when others are driving that my phone can’t do justice.

Depending what kind of picture you are taking, timing can be everything.

Not only do each of these stories capture moments that we could miss if we blink, they also each tell a story. As mentioned previously, Weston points out that a photographer’s job is to make sure the viewer interprets the image for the same purpose the photographer took it.

The snake picture for instance. Many people (myself included) have a fear of snakes without seeing them with their jaws open about to snap a small bird in half. But isn’t that an interpretation in itself? Predator versus prey. This picture, while dealing with time in one way, also deals with perception. Recently, due to the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, many members of the black community have started their own campaigns against racial profiling. Deante Covington, an African American man from Oklahoma City took things into his own hands by posting two side by side pictures of himself with the hashtag: #IfTheyGunnedMeDownThe first picture of him was of him smiling in a an Air Force uniform. The picture to the right of that was him blowing smoke out of his mouth in a baggy hoodie and jeans. The message of the picture dealt with: “Which one would you shoot?”
Like the snake picture, these pictures dealt with timing, though the photographer manipulated them to show themselves in two different lights. Covington’s pictures were a direct shot fired at how the media deals with portraying victims (from minorities) when they are shot and whether they show pictures of them smiling and happy or choose to show pictures of them that make them look menacing and show them in a negative light. Just because someone can be a predator or make mistakes does not mean that in their entirety they are evil. There are even pictures of Hitler smiling and playing with younger children; photography is a choice of what you choose to show in that moment and using the luck of your timing. Timing can send a message with a photo.

The second picture is interesting because it is both the beginning and the end of something. Pictures like the bee losing its stinger remind me of those videos in slow motion where someone is slapped across the face or a bullet is shot into glass as it breaks into hundreds of shards. Timing of pictures doesn’t just work for speed. There are often pictures of controversy that come from times of the past. Pictures from the Holocaust, pictures from the Vietnam war, pictures from the Civil Rights Movement.
One picture that comes to mind takes place during the sixties. A police squadron are facing some sixties hippies with their guns pointed at them. Instead of being scared, the hippies stick daisy in the bayonets of the opposing officers’ guns.

It is interesting to think if the photographer knew what type of impact this picture would have on future generations. The same can be said of the pictures that can be seen of 9/11. To think our children and others will only know it through television and conversation. To think there are children born after such a crucial event, but that they will know the magnanimity of the tragedy from a picture. Timing adds power to photography.

The last picture of the statue Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) in Rio de Janeiro with the airplane between his hands is to show how views can be skewed by photography. Once again with story-telling, timing adds symbolism to a photo. The enormity of the Jesus statue with something as small as a man-made plane between His palms.
Another great example is the homecoming picture from WWII, with the sailor kissing the nurse and how people use that as a symbol for victory and passion in a relationship when the two subjects in the picture were both strangers and got caught up in a moment. We hold pictures like these dear to us because the represent our inner thoughts and desires. The tininess of our human lives, the want of a lover who celebrates sheer existence. Timing adds symbolism to a moment, to a photo because it gives it meaning.

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14 thoughts on “Timing is Everything

  1. I really enjoy your post, especially the concept of timing when photographing. Something so small that most of us often do not think about, we just take out our phones and snap a picture when everyone says “ready.” After reading your post, I realized how valuable timing truly is to photos. For example, today I was out working on my photo essay project. I was casually taking photos here and there and a sudden burst of wind kicked up and I quickly realized, this is the perfect time for a picture to capture the depth of the leaves blowing. The image you used above with the #IfTheyGunnedMeDown hash tag was very powerful and opened my eyes to the idea of a double sided picture. Is there a double standard when it comes to photography? He is making a statement firing at the effect of what would happen to him in either of those two pictures, chances are we know the answer he is looking for. The picture to the left conveys him being “professional” where as the picture to the right shows him enjoying some recreational hobby that may be frowned upon. I truly believe timing is everything, especially in life and if photos are moments captured in our lives, than timing is everything in photography.

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  2. I enjoyed your blog post and seeing images where timing truly played a part in its meaning. Berger offers this in his article “Understanding a Photograph,” when he explains that timing is really important. Berger explains that catching the moment in an image is what creates a meaningful photograph. Now, for the photographer there may be a different meaning than that of someone looking at the photo. I think that the last photo you chose to use illustrates the feelings many had when the WWII soldiers were returning home. It captures emotion and meaning. However, the audience could have several ideas of what is happening in the photo. Overall, your examples help to portray your message of timing and meaning.

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  3. I really enjoyed this post for many reasons,when you and Weston say that “make sure the viewer interprets the image for the same purpose the photographer took it”, I don’t think this actually happens that often. I think that no matter how hard a photographer tries the message that gets across will be different for everybody that views the image. The interpretation for each image is entirely dependent on your own past experiences, thoughts and feelings. In order for every single person to get the same message or meaning from an image, they need some sort of direction or background image. Maybe I really like snakes and I grew up raising snakes, in that case my interpretation of the first image you posted would be completely different from someone who has never seen a snake or has a serious fear. A photographer simply can not know how someone will interpret their image, all they can do is hope.

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  4. Timing is important, but from your blog post I understand more of how interpretation and perception are used in a picture. Perception, especially in social media is so important. Perception in photos in general is important. Just think about funerals. Family and friends put together photos of the loved one’s past, but they don’t put the bad pictures or pictures of their last moments; instead they use photos of them being happy or important moments in their life that seem happy and make them seem like they had an incredible life when for all we know it could have been awful.

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  5. This is a great post. I especially like the one of the bee stinging the man! Very cool. I think you are very accurate that a good photo requires the perfect timing. In just a second an entire picture can change. It is important to capture these moments. Any one can take a picture but, it takes more effort to take a good picture. No one ever really holds onto those ‘bad pictures.’ They seem to be burned or conveniently lost. I think pictures are a memory. Some of them are good and some of them are bad. The only difference is, you get to choose the ones you keep.

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  6. I really enjoyed your post! This is such a true point that I really have never thought of until we started doing this project. When looking at a picture I never think to really think about what it going on in the picture. The photographer could have cropped the image to show only what they wanted. There could be a photo of a couple looking really happy, but what the photographer cropped out was a homeless person sitting on the sidewalk. When looking at a picture you aren’t always seeing the truth. It isn’t always what it seems to be.

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  7. I find it interesting that you used timing so well in this post. While I disagree with taking pictures while driving (girlfriend almost killed us a few weeks ago taking a picture of “the prettiest fucking sunset”), your point about timing is still striking. There are thousands of pictures I’ve seen and wondered how they managed to capture it and what this makes me realize is how many more things that have gone uncaptured. If timing is this important, there must be millions of interesting and amazing moments that no one was around to witness, or take a photo of. This aspect makes me excited for the future seeing as camera phones are making photos more and more common in daily life.

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  8. I completely agree with you when you say that some of the best images of a sunrise or sunset is unfortunately while your driving. It shows the beauty in nature. However, when i scrolled down and saw the poor helpless bird and the snake about to chomp on it completely broke my heart. It goes to show that although timing is everything is only shows you when the creator (person capturing the photo) wants you to see.
    I also completely agree with the #iftheygunnedmedown photo. I have seen so much controversy over how the victims of crimes such as Brown are portrayed. Some feel that he is a “thug” based off of photos of him smoking while others who see him in his cap and gown feel that he was a “helpless child”. It truly depends on what the creator, in this case the news stations, wants to portray him.
    Overall I feel that these pictures get their feeling and emotion based the timing of the creator and what they want you to see.

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  9. There are a million images in the world today that would have made the world so different if they were captured at a different moment. For a lot of photographs the timing is everything. The photo might not be that affective if it was not taking at the right moment.

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  10. I never really understood how much went into photographs until we started working on the photo essay and reading articles like Berger’s. Timing is definitely nothing something I have ever thought about when taking a picture. However, this post made me realize that timing could actually make or break a photograph. For example, if that picture with the bee stinging a man was not taken at the correct time, it wouldn’t be as half as intriguing as it is now. The reason why the eye is so drawn to it is because it was taken at the perfect time.

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  11. I love the three pictures that really use timing to their advantage. Timing is everything when it comes to photography. I think that a single moment can be lost due to by timing.Timing definitely played a huge role in the last iconic picture that you showed. I agree with you, that picture holds so much meaning and symbolism to Americans: joy, passion, freedom…

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  12. Gab!You’re awesome! The timing pictures you choose are awesome! Photographs can capture moments that most people would never get to see otherwise (for example, the bird and snake picture). It is also interesting with the #Iftheygunnedmedown picture and the WWII that pictures can be misconstrued and not used in context. Weston says it is important that the viewer knows the meaning that the photographer had when they took it so that this confusion does not occur.

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    • Hi Kathy,

      Thank you for your comment and alerting us to the fact that the photo was yours. Though I have removed the photograph, please be aware that the use of the photo on this blog, which was created for educational purposes, clearly falls within the Fair Use guidelines written into section 107 of the US copyright law (see http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html).

      All my best,
      BW

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