Ready, Fire, Aim: My Approach to Photography

Ready, Fire, Aim: My Approach to Photography

I’ve been giving thought, perhaps too much thought, to how I approach photography, how I learn and what I can do to improve.  All of which is largely dictated by personality.  I firmly believe that a better understanding of ourselves can lead us to be more productive and more successful.

How then do I approach photography, or at least getting ‘the shot’?

At one extreme there are those that go out and shoot what they come across, a free spirited approach, while at the other extreme is the more regimented approach of going out into the field with ‘the shot’ in mind, blinkered to other potential opportunities.  I would like to think that I fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

If I am going to make the investment in getting up early to go shooting then I want to maximize the chance that I am going to come back with an image that excites me.  To do that I will research the location if I’ve never been there before by looking to see what others have done at this location.  In times gone by looking at the postcard rack was always a good jumping off point, while this still is a fair approach the internet offers a much greater visual exploration of an area of potential interest.

When on location I will typically plan on 3 categories of shot – wide views, what I call mid-range shots and finally details.  If I get a satisfactory image in one of these categories I’m happy.  Achieving a satisfactory image in more than one of these categories and I’m ready to buy a round of drinks for everyone in the local Starbucks.

I will typically have a primary subject in mind but also have thought through a few ‘what ifs’ and have a secondary subject in mind too.

Having a secondary subject was a good thing on the morning I shot this photograph.  I had risen before the sun with the intention of getting some harbor views bathed with the early morning sunlight.  Unfortunately there wasn’t a sunrise just a flat grey sky – ‘no sunrise today, you should have been here yesterday’ was the chorus from the joggers and cyclists as they passed me by.  After deciding that the harbor views weren’t working on this particular morning I decided to try for the red barn.  Fortunately the tide was cooperative, where I was stood is often covered with water at high tide, and I was able to get in position to make this image.

0 Replies to “Ready, Fire, Aim: My Approach to Photography”

  1. Hi Andy,

    I responded here yesterday but I think my comments are in cyberspace. I LOVE this picture! We have red barns in common, and Howard Gardner (I’m a teacher!) and especially the “Ready, fire, aim approach.” Perhaps we have multiple intelligences even in our photography alone! Your blog is just wonderful, and practical, too, and I intend to follow it for years to come.

    Did you attend Santa Fe workshops? Do you know about The Mindful Eye, another wonderful website with practical teaching and an incredibly artistic approach? I have gone on two workshops with them, and Craig and Marti are inspirational teachers in a good, and very interactive way.

    Back to this picture. You caught it all: the light, placement of the barn, slow shutter speed. Lovely.

  2. Hi Cindy,

    Thanks for the support. It’s appreciated more than you realize!

    I hadn’t come across ‘The Mindful Eye’ workshops until you had mentioned it. It looks interesting and with your recommendation I will give them serious consideration.


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