June 1, 2011

#22 – Think it through.

This happens to me way more often than I’m comfortable to admit.

I’ve got the right camera. The right look. The right pose. I take the picture. It looks fantastic on the back of my screen. Everybody’s happy and we move on.

Then I get home, download the pics to my computer and that’s when I notice it. I call it “The Mistake.” Something glaring and obvious. The light is coming from the wrong side. The baby’s face is covered with drool. There’s a sandbag in the bottom right corner of the frame (look behind the dress).

I didn’t start my work life as a professional photographer. I was a dad first – a dad who wanted to take better pics of his adorable kids (all six of them it turns out). I didn’t get a formal photo education and as such, I can – from time to time – forget to check a thing or two when I shoot.

The good news is that I built myself a little process to cut down on my potential photo hangover. You can too – here’s what you do.

Make a checklist before you shoot…
When I raise up my camera to take a shot, I run through a little checklist in my mind:

1.         Is my shutter speed at least 1/60 of a second?
2.         Is there too much/too little light?
3.         Is everything in focus that I want to be in focus?
4.         Is there anything in the shot I don’t want to be in the shot?
5.         Messy faces, out of place hairs, crinkled anything?
6.         Does anything look weird?

then check it after you shoot.
Those six questions are great beforehand, but be sure to ask them after you take the snapshot too. The problem, of course, is that you generally have a few seconds after you shoot the image to get another one (case in point: a birthday party). Learn to read your images quickly (or on a bigger screen) for the best results.

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