Magic Monday: Shoot Less

I’m still marveling over a comment made to me over the weekend.

A lovely friend of mine was casually turning the pages of a Fine Art Coffee Table book I recently finished for a family Day in the Life session and kindly admiring the images… when she made this bewildered comment,

How many pictures did you have to take to get these shots?”

At first I really didn’t understand the question.  At all.  Then it finally dawned on me.

An interesting paradigm has emerged with the influx of digital photography.  With limitless images and no film costs there seems to exist a school of thought that, “If I shoot hundreds of pictures, I’m bound to get at least a few good ones!”

Thoughtless shooting depending 100% on luck.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have much “luck”.  My luck ran out after the first photo session I ever did on an SLR 4 years ago (which instilled in me a load of false confidence and a good dose of passion for this new way of doing photography.–a truly great story for another day.)

I have tried in the last few years to shoot more intentionally–instead of accidentally–and to slow down.  I remember purchasing 16 gigs worth of cards, knowing that would insure I’d have enough space for all the images at a shoot.  I’d easily average 350-400 images/per hour of shooting.

Today I average between 100-150 images/per hour of shooting and I still feel like I could cut back more.  I’ve noticed the more I slow down, and refuse to take a shot until I have studied the frame and compose/expose perfectly,… the more I nail the shot the first time, have less editing, and can quickly move on to my next idea.

Shooting less, and slowing down has helped me to make drastic improvement in my work and save me time.

What should the real answer to my friends question be?


Shoot less.  Get More.

Happy Monday!

Oh yes… this image is a perfect example of when you should actually SHOOT MORE.  Sad to say that Buzzy is 10 months old now and this is the first picture in existence with all three of us in the image.  This is definitely a case for shooting MORE 🙂  Thanks to my mom for grabbing this shot after Sunday dinner last night at my insistence that we have something of a family picture before Buzzy graduates High School.

Brooke Snow is a Lifestyle photographer in Cache Valley, Utah. She recently learned how to yodel so she could perform upbeat polka songs in the kitchen for the baby boy she is smitten with. Her delightful husband sings bass and does a great oom pah line to accompany the yodel chorus. She wrote an opera once, and dabbles in cowboy poetry.

Brooke teaches private photography lessons as well as monthly photography classes in Logan, Utah.

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16 Responses

  1. don’t worry…there are still VERY few pictures with all of us in it! Just doesn’t work that way 🙂 🙂 🙂 As long as you have pictures of him, you’ll appreciate it!

  2. Great post Brooke. Reducing the number of photos I take, while increasing the quality, has saved me a ton of time on the back-end. Of course I still shoot too many, I think I’m addicted to burst mode.

  3. I had a student who said she was taught to shoot in burst mode, insisting the instructor claimed the middle shot would always be the best. I just wouldn’t want to deal with that many images. I have actually never shot in burst mode till last week, when I finally realized it would be a good idea for some jumping silhouette shots for a senior session that I kept missing the difinitive moment in the air 😉 Burst mode perfectly solved that problem… I just wouldn’t want to use it as a regular method of shooting to save space and time.

  4. Excellent shot of your family! I have one photo with my 3 girls & my husband & I, not a very good example set by a photographer, right? This is a great lesson to learn & follow. It can also apply to so many areas in life such as the way I spout my mouth off to much: think, compose, say. I need to do better.

  5. Great article Brooke. I totally agree with shoot less and more deliberate. I have to say however, that as I slow down and shoot less, I do have to get more precise on my anticipation and timing of the moment. I have realized that I don’t enjoy culling through 100’s of images to find the “perfect few”. There are so many little nuances that change frame to frame when I just hold and shoot that I would drive myself crazy trying to choose the “one”.

    Love the picture and as alway,I love reading your prospective!

    Have a great day!

  6. Brooke-This post captures the thing that struck me the most when we had our private lesson- the time you take to get it right and make everyone feel good. No need to rush around and make people anxious- love love love this and probably the main thing I’m working on right now. Thanks again!

  7. Do you feel the same way when shooting babies and children? I find that when I shoot the wee ones, my favorites tend to be the accidentals that I took simply because I was shooting a lot because they were bound to look at me at some point. Just wondering what you do with the movin’ groovin’ little guys?

    1. Great question Wendy! I do shoot a bit more when kids are involved, but the main idea, is that I don’t want to be shooting mindlessly. I can still be ready the second the shot comes with little ones, and not have to keep firing so that I don’t “miss the shot”… I’m not going to miss the shot. I just wait for it. I find I “fire the most” when I’m taking action pictures. For example, I’m having a family run towards me, or kids run towards me, then I keep shooting. Other than that, I TRY to be patient still and wait for the moment or help create it.

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