The Art of the snapshot
The snapshot, usually taken with a simple camera, gives the viewer a millisecond thick slice of a person, place, event, or scene out of every day life. It is a raw, from the hip picture, that shows life as it was just as the shutter clicked. There's no going back in with software to tamper or add elements – if the ex shows up in the picture the photo has to be torn to remove him or her. The art is in the reality and the unassuming candidness of the picture.
Most were meant to be just memories of an important person, or remarkable moment in life. Generally stuck in albums with stick-on photo corners, placed on a shelf and forgotten, or at best to be reviewed during reunions. Aunt Martha may have been an ugly old cow with the personality of a wood chipper, but the spontaneity of the shot and the fact she's there frozen in time is where the art is apparent.
The snapshot is an accessible art, anyone can create one, especially since the advent of the camera phone. Some photographers are better than others, carefully framing so as not to cut heads off, a sense of design so the picture is pleasing, but all being said and done each shot has it's own merits, some value at least to the person pressing the shutter release.
Back in the day long periods of time elapsed between the click and the pic, there were still pictures on the camera, so the film wasn't dropped off to be developed, followed by the wait for the finished prints to show up at the drug store to be picked up – oh the anticipation. Not all the snapshots were keepers – a nice photo of the photographers thumb case in point. But many were (and are) time locked in a small gem.
The best advice is to shoot away and damn the garbage cans in the shot. Shoot form the hip and take the bad with the good, there’s no expensive film involved in today’s photography. Fill up the memory card until bursting and slap in another one, shoot 'til the battery is dry and take them as they come. True there'll be some clinkers and the folks at the reunion may tire of the constant camera in their faces, but keep shooting and the reward will come in the end.