Photographing Action: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize!

by Jim Zuckerman

© Jim Zuckerman
All Rights Reserved
I have noticed on my photo tours that too often when a photographer misses a special moment, he or she will take their eyes away from the viewfinder and express their frustration and disappointment to others nearby. So many times that proves to be a mistake because another opportunity quickly follows the first one.

When photographing subjects like wildlife, birds, children, dancers, horses, and other fast-moving subjects, you must constantly watch them through the finder. As soon as you take your eyes away to look at something else, or to talk to a friend, you can lose the chance to get the best shot of the day.

The hippos you see here were photographed in Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania just before sundown. When they exhibited their aggressive behavior by opening their mouths, it happened very quickly and the peak of the action lasted only fractions of a second. I kept my eyes glued to the viewfinder, not daring to look elsewhere in the hope of capturing something like this.

Editor's Note: This article was adapted from one of Jim Zuckerman's BetterBlogs. For more information on Jim Z and his online courses at, check out his bio. Also, get inspired by reviewing Jim's Premium BetterPholio online gallery and his Pro BetterPholio Web site.

About Author / Instructor / Photographer, Jim Zuckerman
Photography Instructor: Jim ZuckermanFew people are able to spend most of their time pursuing their passion in life. I'm one of them, and I feel blessed to have had a love affair with photography since I began taking pictures.

In 1970, I decided to abort my intended career as a doctor in favor of photography and have never regretted it. Photography has enriched my life more than I can tell you. My career has taken me to over 60 countries, and I've seen and photographed wondrous things.

I specialize in wildlife and nature, international travel, and digital effects. In addition, I also shoot nudes, photo- and electron microscopy, children, and other subjects that stimulate my visual or emotional sensibilities.

For 25 years, I shot a medium format camera, specifically the Mamiya RZ 67, for its superior quality. When I would lecture, Id project the large, glass mounted transparencies, and it was really an incredible experience to see the brilliant color saturation and resolution of these slides. However, I went digital in 2004 because the technology finally equaled or surpassed medium format. I now shoot the Canon 1Ds Mark II digital camera with a variety of lenses.

I am the author of 12 books on photography. My work is sold in 30 countries around the world, and my images have appeared on scores of magazine and book covers, calendars, posters, national ads, trade ads, brochures, and corporate promotions.

For many years I've led photography tours to exotic places. These include Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Burma, Greece, The Czech Republic and Slovakia, Spain, Morocco, and Peru.