As a family photographer, I often find myself pushing the limits with how fast I'm moving. Sometimes I'm trying to get a shot before the 2-year-old child decides he hates what is happening, and other times I'm rushing to make sure I accomplish everything the family wanted to get. It doesn't matter what situation I'm in. Anytime I'm rushing, my images suffer. Last year at WPPI while attending one of Jerry Ghionis' classes, he said something that really stuck with me, and helped improve my photography. Ghionis said to slow down.
It seems like such a simple tip, and too good to be true. As photographers, we get comfortable, and sometimes get stuck on cruise control. This is a dangerous thing that you won't even realize when it is happening. It's an easy trap to fall in: You get in a groove, your images are looking solid, you know exactly what you're doing, and next thing you know you are in cruise control mode. If you just take a second to slow down and really look things over before you click the shutter, you will start noticing little things that need to be changed.
Eric Adams, the man who taught me everything I know about photography, always said there is only a couple of inches between a good image and a great image. If you can push every image that extra two inches into a great image, you will see a complete difference in everything you do.
How To Slow Down
When I first really focused on slowing down and noticing details, one of the things that helped me was putting my camera on manual focus. It absolutely forces you to slow down, and to take your time to make sure your image is in focus. While you are focusing you start noticing things that need to be changed. This is a dangerous way to do it, I'll admit. I had some great images other than the fact they weren't in focus, but we all know a blurry image is unusable.
Another way to slow down is to take one shot and study the image on the back of the camera. Look at the image carefully. Pretend that if this image were going to go up on your website, or Facebook, what would you want changed. Then make the changes.
How To Make Your Session Feel Okay With it
Sometimes when you are moving super slow and constantly reposing, you might worry that those in your session are losing trust in your skills. I've found the best way to make them feel comfortable is to just be honest with them. Let them know you want the image to be perfect and you don't want to deliver subpar work. I'm also a big fan of showing them the back of my camera. Start with the first image and show them how each tweak makes the image better.
Why It Helps
When you deliver images to your client, and 80 percent of your images are okay, and 20 percent are great, it gives them the feeling that you got lucky on the 20 percent of great images. It was hard at first when I started slowing down. My number of images delivered went way down, but the quality of my work went up, and I quickly realized that the old saying "quality over quantity" was true. A lot of my clients put the whole session up on Facebook. When I was delivering 100 plus OK images, that's the kind of photographer I was being portrayed as, an OK photographer. As I started to slow down, my numbers went down to around 40 images, but they were all great. As you try slowing down, don't be alarmed by the fact that you are delivering less images. Take comfort in the fact that every image you deliver is fantastic. As an added bonus, as you start to perfect everything in camera, your editing time will also drop.