…And Other “Action” Imagery

Photographing people “in action”

In a previous post, a few weeks ago, I mentioned “calm imagery.” Today, let’s look at “action imagery” and not just any kind of action imagery. Let me explain….

When we think of “action shots” or “action photography” usually the images that come to mind might show bikers jumping off cliffs, surfers chasing waves, and the like. Yes, these are a few examples of action shots.

That said, sometimes, when we photograph editorials, for publications, we capture portraits, and also “action” shots, as in people in action, doing something. Examples can include performing artists performing or pretending to perform; teachers explaining stuff; subjects showing how to do one thing or another, and so on. These are action shots, too, that we might need to include in our (visual) story, in order to tell the whole story in the most engaging way possible.

So, here are a few examples:

Avram Finkelstein in his artist studio at Pioneer Works, in Brooklyn, NY, working on a sketch for his work commissioned by The Shed for its opening exhibition. Photographed exclusively for A&U Magazine.
Avram Finkelstein in his artist studio at Pioneer Works, in Brooklyn, NY, working on a sketch for his work commissioned by The Shed for its opening exhibition. Photographed for A&U Magazine by Alina Oswald.

  • photograph a performing artist on stage, performing a song or talking to the audience (or pretending to, if the photo shoot takes place in a photo studio)
  • capture gesture, facial expression, body language
  • if photographing teachers or scientists or artists, ask them to draw or write something on the board, explain something, or organize folders on their desks, etc.
Playwright Tony Kushner receives the Activism and Jewish Culture Award on December 10, 2018, in NYC, at the Worker’s Circle winter benefit.
Playwright Tony Kushner receives the Activism and Jewish Culture Award on December 10, 2018, in NYC, at the Worker’s Circle winter benefit. Photo and article by Alina Oswald. Read more in Out IN Jersey Magazine
  • when capturing portraits, especially for publications, a lot of times the subject should look at the camera, hence, at the viewer/reader, to better interact with the reader; when capturing people “in action” (writing something, repairing something, painting something, etc); capture subjects in action, captivated by their work, not necessarily looking at the camera
  • NOTE: when photographing for a publication (or for any client for that matter), check with your editor or art director first, to make sure you know and understand the story you’re about to tell, and how to best tell it for your audience

Damon L. Jacobs photographed exclusively for A&U Magazine. Damon in action. During his speeches, he shows his Truvada to the audience and sometimes even takes his Truvada as PrEP. Here's a demo. ©Alina Oswald.
Damon L. Jacobs photographed exclusively for A&U Magazine. Damon in action. During his speeches, he shows his Truvada to the audience and sometimes even takes his Truvada as PrEP. Here’s a demo. ©Alina Oswald.
  • if photographing in studio, another idea for “action” shots would be to get subjects to talk with their hands, pretend that they talk to an audience or perform, etc.
Actor Steve Hayes photographed for A&U Magazine--America's AIDS Magazine. ©Alina Oswald
Actor Steve Hayes photographed for A&U Magazine–America’s AIDS Magazine. ©Alina Oswald

To find out more about the stories of some of the subjects in my above slideshow, feel free to check out my Portfolio page, featuring interviews and photoshoots with actors, activists, and authors, such as artist and activist Avram Finkelstein, actor and activist Ron B., Brandon Lee (the Orange Warrior), actor and comedian Steve Hayes, and many more.

Adjusting the Lights.
Adjusting the Lights. Black-and-white photography.

Hope this finds you well. Stay safe and, as always, thank you for stopping by.

Alina Oswald

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