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Capturing the moment requires a good eye, but most of all, patience. (Photograph by Dan Westergren)

How to Capture the Moment

Reader Question: I’ve heard photographers talk about capturing the moment. What does that mean?

My Answer: Almost every good shot captures a unique moment in time.

Sometimes the moment happens right away, and sometimes you have to wait a while. It can be as simple as a woman glancing up or as complex as having many disparate elements align within a perfect composed frame.

How do you make an interesting picture that includes a moment?

First you need to find an engaging scene or background for your picture. Then you need to wait for someone — or something — to move into the composition you have created.

Great photographers spend a lot of time looking through the camera waiting for just the right extra element to appear. It can make all the difference in the world.

I first had the idea for making the photo you see above when I was riding a ski lift at Snowmass in Aspen, Colorado and saw these perfectly shaped pine trees placed just so on the slope.

When I got off the lift, I rode my snowboard down to the spot I thought would give me the most picturesque scene, then waited for a snowboarder to weave between the trees.

I managed to capture the boarder as he was making his turn, putting a little tension in his body language. It’s this minor change in the scene that gives the shot that little extra something.

Dan Westergren is director of photography for National Geographic Traveler magazine. Follow him on Twitter @dwestergren and on Instagram @danwestergren.

How do you capture the moment? Share your tips with the Intelligent Travel community by leaving a comment!