Digital technology has brought many changes to photography.
- We can shoot many more frames at no extra cost other than the time taken to sort through them all and the extra wear and tear on the shutter mechanism.
- Chimping shots to check exposure, composition and that strobes are firing as expected saves us the delay we used to suffer waiting for film to come back from the lab and possible embarrassment when we find something got our exposure off.
- Having frames scanned so they can be edited in Photoshop is a step that’s not needed, eliminating the chance of dust and other contaminates from spoiling our work.
- Making backups of our images is much easier and faster, with the right configuration it can be fully automated.
- Images can be on the news desk seconds after being shot and seen by millions around the world soon after
Yet with all the good things it brings some novice photographers tell me they shoot a lot but are unhappy with the results. Looking at some of their photo collections I think I know part of their problem.
I think for some the convenience of digital comes at a price – it’s all too easy to click away resulting in lots of images that are okay but leave the photographer unsatisfied, no single image that stands out from the others and gives them the “That’s the one!” feeling.
When my father learnt photography he’d be given two frames for a days assignment. Two. On glass. He’d have to think long and hard before making an exposure as each was 50% of what could be taken.
There are some subjects where lots of shots will help, for instance babies who can change their expression in a blink of an eye and back and forth between happy, puzzled, upset and many others in-between. The reality is you’re not in any real control with them and have to capture what you can while they’re happy to play along.
But when you can be more in control of the subject matter take it! Slow down and think each shot through. If working in the studio plan more up front. No doubt things may change, being flexible and open to suggestions from others can result in something far better than the original idea, but if you’ve got a good starting point planned you’re more likely to get the results you’re after.
Treat each digital frame as if it were from expensive film. Instead of massive storage cards with many GB try going for more smaller cards that get you into a changing pattern like those shooting film and watching the frames left counter. Some of the small cards are practically given away now.
The change in mind set will have you thinking more about what’s in front of the lens before you press the shutter button. Hopefully with this increased consideration for the subject and less machine-gunning there will be more satisfying shots.