With the digital era came the most important change in photography. Photographers no longer had to preserve their rolls for THE shot and instead could just go on, shooting all day, with almost no or very little limitations. Along with this perspective also came a completely new habit for us, photographers. We just shoot too much and no longer focus on what really matters: the content. I myself have been down this road. Carrying a lot of lenses with me, bringing 100GB of memory cards everywhere I went to and shooting whatever was popping in front of my lens thinking I would select in post production anyway. I recently happened to reconsider this point of view and realised I was just not focusing enough on my subjects. Instead I was debating what lens to use and how much shots could I get on this day. But truth is, this is not what photography is all about. It is about telling stories and shooting content that matters.
Using a simple camera setup
Don’t let your gears distract you from getting THAT shot. How many times did I miss a shot because I was too focus on which lens to use or because I was being slowed down by a heavy camera bag. Use a versatile lens such as a 35mm and observe, move and be ready to take the shot. In the old time photographers like Koudelka, Hurn or Cartier-Bresson were using minimalistic camera equipment and it didn’t prevent them from creating some of the most powerful photographs.
Choose a subject
As photographer, we are just the witness of a moment. We are actually very passive and aren’t directly interacting with the subject and so the content. But if there is something we can do, it is to envision our photographs. We have to make sure we are at the right place at the right moment. Meaning we need to know what we want to achieve and how. Choose a subject, dive in its context, and make it happens. Great photos are planned and envisioned. Not happening by coincidences.
Carefully compose your photographs
Obviously this is another crucial factor when it comes to take shots that matter. Depending of the framing and composition, a photo won’t tell the same story. Be smart, use your brain and envision your photographs before bringing it to life through a carefully selected composition and framing.
Stay under the radar
Don’t interfere with the story happening in front of your eyes. Be unobtrusive. Most of the time your subjects will modify their emotions when spotting a photographer or even shy away from the camera. Remains as low-key as possible and don’t aim at your subject until this is the moment you want to capture.
Stop shooting too much
The more time spent looking at life through the viewfinder of our camera, the less time we spend observing the real world. Wait for the right moment and stop bringing 500 shots from each sessions. Give yourself a goal. Even for weddings, we all know clients want a lot of photographs but it is our mission to educate them. It is much better for the bride and groom to receive 400 meaningful photographs than 700 completely insignificant photos just to make numbers. Focus on the quality rather than the quantity. It will allows you to focus and remain alert the whole day and tell their story through meaningful photographs. Bring quality content to your clients. They will thank you on the end.
Taking shots that matter isn’t a matter of coincidences. It takes patience and understanding of your subject to be at the right place at the right moment. And It is a lot more work than just shooting a lot. However, bringing one amazing picture can be worth thousands of insignificant shots and will be the greatest reward a photographer can get. Keep in mind that a powerful image is one that engages the viewer. One that tells a story and evokes emotions to your public.