In the fast paced world of photography, you have to be on top of your game. If you’re a pro, clients want their images yesterday and know how to make your life miserable until you provide them. If you’re a hobbyist, you likely don’t have a lot of time to devote to this hobby of yours and so you are driven to capture as many frames as possible in the short time you have allotted. Both of these scenarios are completely understandable, however, it’s important that you keep your head about you and strive to submit your best work at every opportunity. So, how do you do that? I’ve found that the answer is counterintuitive…You must slow down.
Photography Tip: Become A Better Photographer By Slowing Down Your Sessions & Shoots
Forcing yourself to slow down in your approach to photography enables you to attack each shot from a place of control and intentionality rather than “spraying and praying” that you get a shot that is worth sharing later. Photography is a rare art due to the fact that we even have that option. Even just a few years ago, rushing into a photo shoot and just hoping to capture something with one of your many continuous shutter clicks was unheard of. In most other art forms, painting, music, sculpture, etc. you are forced by the medium itself to slow down the process. I hope this article reminds you to do the same with your photography.
But how? I’m not suggesting you adopt sloth-like movements and approach each shot in slow motion like you’re Bruce Willis walking calmly away from an explosion…actually, scratch that. If you can pull the “Willis-leaving-an-explosion-walk” off, do it! Just drop the camera and do it! For the rest of us, much of this slowing down will probably occur mentally. Rather than having your thoughts bounce around in your head like a squirrel on Red Bull, stop that madness and approach your shots with intention. Here’s what I try to do every time I’m approaching a shoot…
Take time before you even get on location to visualize what you want to accomplish.
- What are you shooting?
- What does the location look like? (I’ve even gone so far as to check out the Google Maps photos if available for an outdoor venue…or Google Images for indoors.)
- What is the lighting going to look like?
- What techniques would I like to try?
- What shots do I know I need to get?
- What story am I trying to tell?
By taking the time to walk through all of these questions prior to actually arriving, I am able to mentally work through each scenario. When I arrive, I can move directly into setting up the shot, speaking to my subjects, and so on with less wasted motion and in a calm and controlled manner. Most of the time, I’ll already know how I want to approach every aspect of the lighting, backgrounds, etc. so if an issue arises, I am dealing only with that single issue…Not that issue in addition to every other “normal” aspect of the photo shoot.
Your gear. Check it before you arrive at your chosen location, obviously, but also double check it once you arrive. It’s better to take an extra moment or three at the beginning to ensure that you and your camera, lighting, modifiers, stands, and light meter are all on the same page. While you can make adjustments, etc. throughout the shoot (and you probably will), I’ve found that taking an extra moment at the beginning allows me to ease into the shoot without any unknowns in the back of my mind. I know my battery is fresh, my camera settings are where I want them, my lighting is setup securely, etc. Again, this takes away potential problems before they even arise and leave you to focus on the shoot and any completely unpredictable issues when they inevitably arise, yes, I’m looking at you and your stupid law, Murphy!
I’ve found that since I’ve really begun focusing on this approach, I am able to enjoy my outings/sessions more than ever before. I’m able to block out distractions, stop worrying so much about gear and settings, and focus more on getting the shots that I want. For example, I recently took some time to visit a hotel rooftop where they were putting on a skateboarding demo. By thinking through the lens I would use, what aperture I wanted, and what camera mode would be best, I was able to get to the venue and enjoy the skating and atmosphere without being so preoccupied with the technical aspects of my photography that I missed out on the fun.
While I realize that this photography tip is very simplistic, I believe the impact it can have is immeasurable. By taking a more “Zen-like,” in the moment approach to photography, clarity is enhanced, more opportunities for “the shot” unfold, and you are more prepared to capture them. Granted, it takes practice and, for me, it takes consistently reminding myself to slow down and focus on what I’m shooting. The rewards are well worth it and can certainly be the difference between getting the shots you want, or ending up with nothing to show your client (or yourself) for the time you invested. So, put some thought into your approach, exercise your brain, visualize every scenario, then slow down!
This comprises a lot of my pre-shoot approach and prep. What about you? What steps do you take to ensure you’re completely prepared for your sessions or outing? Join the conversation in the comments below.
And, my weekly reminder….Get out there and SHOOT! Share your favorites with us on your favorite social media platform, like us on Facebook, drop by our critique section, and be sure to sign up for email updates to stay up to date on the latest and greatest news, contests, reviews, and photography articles!
CREDITS : Photographs by Michael have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.