How to (Almost) Never Miss a Shot

How to (Almost) Never Miss a Shot

Missing a shot is something that happens to every photographer, but there are ways to make it happen less to you. Here’s how to almost never miss a photo.

Whatever style of photography you shoot, sometimes, things happen really, really slowly, and sometimes, they happen instantly. Even in landscape photography, a break in the clouds can open up, casting perfect light across the scene for just a few seconds. Whether you shoot rock stars or rock formations, the tips in this article can help prevent missing shots.

Have Your Camera Out

The easiest way to miss a shot is to have your camera in a bag. If something happens quickly, by the time you get your bag off and your camera out, you’ve probably missed it. You’re also much more likely to get lazy and convince yourself that there isn’t a photo worth taking, so you don’t have to stop and get it out.

Having your camera out doesn’t just mean having it dangle casually on a strap around your neck. It needs to be turned on, with the lens cap off, ready to go. Unless you’re off on a polar expedition where you need to conserve batteries, the minuscule power draw of standby is worth the tradeoff to not miss a shot.

I’ve found the best way to always have my camera ready is to either use a sling strap so it hangs by my right hip and I can just grab it or, if I’m hiking, skiing, or otherwise doing something active, have it clipped to my left backpack strap with Peak Design’s Capture Clip.

And remember, lens caps belong in your pocket. Keep a cloth handy and give your lens a wipe every so often to keep it clean.

Set Your Camera Up for Quick Shooting

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Used f/8, was there.

Having your camera out is no use if it’s not set up for you to shoot quickly. 30 seconds faffing around, selecting settings is too long.

Most of the time, if I’m not shooting something specific, I like to have my camera in Aperture Priority mode set to f/8. There’s a reason Weegee supposedly said, “f/8 and be there” was the secret to photojournalism. It’s a great working aperture that will give you a decent image in most situations in which you want to react quickly. If you’ve got time, you can dial it up or down as the situation requires.

Since the camera is taking care of the shutter speed, the only exposure setting left to select is the ISO. You can use Auto ISO if you like, although I prefer to select it at the start of the day and change it as needed. If I think conditions are going to vary a bit, I normally use 400 during the day.

Finally, to make sure I can shoot a moving subject, I enable continuous autofocus and burst mode.

With your camera out and on, the lens cap off, and some great all round settings dialed in, you’ll be ready to shoot in an instant, and you’ll miss much less opportunities.

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Ed C's picture

I'm sorry but not sorry to be that guy this time. Your advice is essentially have your camera ready with settings you expect to use? Seriously? I think you need to keep looking for your true calling.

Robert Nurse's picture

This advice the difference between just seeing that great shot and actually recording it.

Ed C's picture

This advice is the most basic of common sense. It is akin to if you want to be able to respond to phone calls have your phone with you.

Matt Williams's picture

Not everyone that reads this site is an experienced pro or semi-pro. Some are amateurs or newbies.

Kind of hate when people crap on stuff that is "obvious" - often, it wasn't obvious even for that person when they first used a camera.

Everyone is at different stages in their career/hobby and we should help them, not criticize articles that are trying to help them.

Foto Toad's picture

Wow, why such harsh comments so far? It likely took longer to write a snarky response then it did to read the article. Remember, not everyone is a badass pro photog god, some readers are just starting out and everyone can benefit from common sense reminders every now and again.
Maybe if you accidentally read a short article that you find to be too simple for your intellect you could maybe next time spend less energy writing comments and spend your energy enlightening us with deep-dive articles filled with all with your boundless wisdom. Or, just move on without adding negativity to the world. I for one hope to never waste my precious time again writing comments like this either... so we may all win-win ¯\(ツ)/¯

Scott Ruffner's picture

Good sound advice in my opinion. Thank you.

Matt Williams's picture

I would also add - beyond the very basic (and quite sensible) recommendations here - that if your camera has user settings (i.e. the U1/U2/U3 on the Nikon Z6/Z7) you can set those up ahead of time. So, in the case of the Z cameras and many others, you can set up for 3 different scenarios you frequently encounter or shoot.


I have my Z6 set up as...

U1: auto ISO (with appropriate SS and ISO limits), aperture-priority, AF-C with eye&face detect, etc. for Portraits/people
U2: Shutter priority, auto ISO, AF-C, etc. mainly for wildlife or to freeze action/create blur where necessary
U3: full manual, fixed base ISO, AF-S, etc with pinpoint AF for product photography and landscapes

And then of course I have normal settings for basic aperture priority, etc.

I also have the "i" menu custom for each of these - so if I need to quick access to, say, focus bracketing in U3, I can do that. Whereas I don't need quick access to focus bracketing in U1.

Just a suggestion! If you shoot a number of different types of situations, these user settings can be a f**king lifesaver!

Walid Azami's picture

Who writes the terrible comments? Well,​ it's never the ones doing well in their business, they don't have time to be so snarky and miserable.

Roz Batten's picture

i mainly shoot manual exposure or shutter priority.. i have found that in aperture priority the camera may choose to use a shutter speed that's too slow .. especially if you're zoomed in for example .. and the available light is not bright enough ..
what's your take on that .. 😊

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Your camera might have an option of setting the minimum shutter speed.