|Nikon D7000, 18-55mm lens at 30mm, shutter 250, f/8, ISO 100, cropped|
Awhile back I was at a Chamber of Commerce presentation (don’t ask) waiting for a speech to begin when I happened to overhear a conversation between two photographers. One was boasting about how he knew photographers who shot hundreds of pictures and only got a handful of good ones, while he carefully picked his shots and got great pictures more than half the time.
In general I could take the boasting, at least in part because later I noticed that he had his flash at a 45-degree angle on a 20 foot high, irregular ceiling. In a future entry I’ll explain why that doesn’t work. The part of the boast that bugged me was the notion that great photographers get great photos every time they hit their shutter buttons.
Not so. For starters, even an experienced photographer can mess things up (see last week’s entry for proof). But more than that, one of the great beauties of digital photography is that it frees us from the obligation to be stingy with our shots.
A recent “photo safari” to the Renaissance Festival is a case in point. In all I shot more than 1600 pictures, including more than 340 of the troupe in this photo. Back in the film days, that would have been between 45 and 67 rolls of film, including the expense of buying it and the hassle of developing it. Just carrying that much stuff around the RenFest would have been a prohibitive proposition.
If I’d been forced to carefully pick and choose every shot I took, I could still have expected to get a few good pictures. But my chances of catching the exact moment when a fire trick looked like mushroom clouds? Odds would have been against it.
That’s why I encourage my students to shoot everything that moves and most of what doesn’t. This introduces the spontaneous into your work. You get the chance to catch anything you can see, all the moments that will escape if you feel obliged to dither about whether or not the shot is worth shooting.