Experimenters involved in measuring single-shot, fast-transient phenomena are fast turning toward photonics to meet their experimental needs. Photonics is the technology of generating and using light in detection, diagnostics, communications, and information processing systems. This technology includes light generation, transmission, deflection, amplification, detection, and recording and includes areas of lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, and optical components and instrumentation. Photonics systems offer immense advantages and possibilities over ,Systems that use electrical signals. The advantages realized by photonics systems include increased data quality (in terms of bandwidth, resolution, reliability, and often accuracy and precision), increased data quantity, and economic and operational benefits. Single-shot, fast--transient analog measurement techniques introduce some special considerations and challenges for the experimenter that are not encountered in telecommunication applications of photonics. This overview explores some of these issues with emphasis placed on photonic sensors and data recorders. A sampling of photonics diagnostic systems is presented along with a discussion of future possibilities and challenges facing the experimenter. This exciting new field is in its infancy, and many of the diagnostic techniques presented are still evolving into yet more powerful tools for the experimenter. Single-shot, fast-transient analog photonics diagnostic techniques have experienced an almost exponential growth over the past few years and are expected to have a major impact on governmental, industrial, and academic communities involved with such measurements.