April 08, 2008
HOW I GOT THE SHOT: Prior to his first aliya to the Torah as a bar mitzvah, a boy studies the section of the Torah he is about to read. Every time I photograph a boy reading from the Torah, I compose a shot that leaves only the hand and text in the image. I like this image because it differs from what I usually shoot and because of how his hand is gently grasping the yad, the silver pointer he will use to guide his reading from the Torah scroll. While the hand appears calm, there is a frenzy of black lines running in several directions that offers an interesting counterpoint to the relaxed energy of the hand. Faceless photographs often lose a great deal of the depth and interest that is generated by looking at a person's facial expression and eyes. Cropping body parts is also a risky business. It's difficult to isolate parts of the body yet still maintain a feeling of comfort when looking at the photo. One general rule to follow is never lop off limbs in midsection so that part of the arm or leg leaves the frame and then returns, unattached, in another section of the photo. Here, I was careful not to crop tighter than the elbows on either side so that the curve of the arms is continuous from shoulder to hand. Another common mistake by young photographers is the dreaded ankle chop, in which a group photo shows everything but the ankles and feet. Better to crop at the waist if not going for a full-body portrait. Increasing viewfinder awareness will enable you to see these mistakes before you press the shutter release.