From the archives: Reunification Light

Here’s an example of when things work together to lift an ordinary shot up to something more…

Reunification light

I was shooting a light show organised by the French consulate in Saigon to celebrate French-Vietnamese friendship toward the end of 2013. The photographers had turned out en-masse and were all shooting much the same thing as each other. It’s hard to get that shot that adds a touch of individuality and creativity when there’s so many photographers and so few variables as was the case for this event.

I wanted to show the Reunification Palace illuminated with lights, but I needed to work something more into the image. I loved the way the lights illuminated the red carpet of the VIP section, but it wasn’t quite enough.

When I saw that figure with their white shirt walking down the aisle, though, I knew I’d found what I was looking for. The end result was better than I’d anticipated, as the motion of the person over the long exposure gives a moody vibe to the image that I love, especially when on first glance he appears to be the only human presence in the shot. Really draws the viewers eyes into the image a lot more than if it had just been some seats and illuminated building. Had they been wearing a black top (or purple or red or…), it wouldn’t have worked. If they’d been a little too much to the left, or to the right, it wouldn’t have worked. If they’d been closer to the camera end of the carpet, it wouldn’t have worked. Getting the good shots is usually a combination of technique, skill, a good eye, creativity and LUCK! Many striking images work because of that bird that just happened to fly into the shot when the shutter was pressed (or other freak happenings that happened at precisely the right time and place).

And never underestimate the difference a human presence in an image can make!