To Be a Better Photographer, It's Sometimes Best to Not Take a Picture

When you drag all your photography gear to a location, do you ever feel a certain pressure to come away with a shot? Certainly, we all want the time and effort we put into each shoot to pay off, but sometimes, it's detrimental to try to force a shot that isn't there.

Coming to you from Thomas Heaton, this video explores a great topic that I think we don't talk about enough: when to not take a picture. Heaton spends quite a bit of time waiting for a shot, but when the time is finally there, he's thwarted by some unexpected mist, after which he decides not to make an image of the scene. Of course, if you're being paid in a professional capacity to take shots of something like a wedding, you'd better keep shooting, but in situations like these, I think it's important not to force photos. I'm personally guilty of it, and I've never once been satisfied by the results after I ignored that little voice in my head, and it was detrimental to my shooting for a few reasons. First, it prevented me from spending time thinking about where to find a better shot. Second, it wasted my time as I tried to post-process a good photo into existence. And third, it hurt my objectivity because I wasn't practicing evaluating what makes a good photo (or at least listening to what my eyes and brain were telling me). So, while none of us like to be disappointed, sometimes, we have to accept that it comes with the territory.

[via Thomas Heaton]

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Wayne Denny's picture

But how many times has the flip side happened, where you thought a photo would be crap and turned out to capture a great moment? I know I've done that before, even with something as static as a landscape (although it definitely happens more with a person as the subject).

Cliff Mueller's picture

I'm a fan of Thomas Heaton but don't think I agree with the sentiment "don't take the shot". Unless you are just out of time, experiment with the shot. Maybe later you will be surprised. After all most shots are not keepers anyway.

Might as well...pixels are cheap...and delete is just one keystroke....who cares?