It’s easy to get lost behind your lens, hunting down your next masterpiece… and when it feels like you’re on the verge of magic (or on the opposite side, the magic feels like a lost cause), it’s easy to feel the need to hold the shutter down… click, click, click, click. It’s like a reflex to push the shutter in hopes you get SOMETHING. Have you ever felt that way? For me, I get the shutter finger jitters most when I’m photographing for clients, because half of my brain is focused on the scene and what’s happening (as I should be) and this other half is like, “Marie, you must create magic for them. Do not miss a thing.” In the past, this little voice has caused me to shoot everything amounting to nothing when I cull…. feeling like an over-shooter.
So what defines someone that “overshoots?” I’ve struggled with this answer. Several photographers I’ve mentored have felt like they overshoot. Here’s what I think, if you are clicking, clicking, clicking with no motive other than hoping not to miss a moment – a moment which you aren’t exactly recognizing… maybe it’s time to slow down and take in some observation-practice. Relax. If you are clicking, clicking, clicking with a motive – like you are on a hunt to nail that something in front of you… you are moving + working the frame to get the photo you are after, then I think that is shooting with intention.
A few weekends ago, I was shooting with intention. I thought I’d share how that felt, because not so long ago, I’m not sure I understood the difference. Kids + pets are a busy combination. Normally, I would be running around like a fool hoping that I would find SOMETHING worthy of shooting and that I could keep up!
Instead, I waited and hawk-eyed moments that presented themselves as something, for some reason, I had to keep. Maybe these will be meaningless photos to you, but I already printed my faves to display in my home – because these moments matter to us. Shooting in this approach helps to feel fully in control of the scene even when you aren’t technically controlling what is happening.
Question: Do you wait for moments or do you work to make moments happen? I’d love to know (and so would other photographers) your approach and works for you. Comment below!
So what defines a moment worth shooting?
I cannot answer that for you. Only you can answer that for yourself. And this takes a great deal of practice and time in the field as I described in how I discovered my inner message here. For me, a moment worth shooting is simply something in the scene in front of me that screams a detail in personality that I want to remember, a detail about a story, motion that I can stop forever, or something that makes me feel an emotion (love, anger, laughter, anything).
Have you ever tried any shooting exercises where you sit there and watch for something in particular – maybe even without your camera? Strategic observation is the best tool and something you can practice anywhere, anytime to help you become an intentional shooter. One last tip, when you become familiar with shooting something in particular – weddings for example – the more you shoot the situation, the stronger you become. Without a doubt I know this to be true, because some of my best photos are of my children… my #1 subject. I’ve picked up the camera and felt rusty in a way when I’ve been in a new situation, yet, last summer coming off of 5 back to back weddings – the photos got stronger and stronger with each wedding due to the environment becoming familiar – even if each wedding was completely different, there are still similarities in the moments to watch for.
So if you feel like you are shooting a bit on the overkill side, take some time to think about why you are shooting in the first place. Are you consistently shooting new subjects or are you working a familiar scene and mastering it? Seriously, comment below. I’m reading!