When I first started photography, I felt the need to be fast with everything. I always felt pressure to just get the shot and move on so that the person in front of the camera could see I knew what I was doing. I thought that being fast was the only way clients could feel confident in my abilities. I was afraid to make people wait and make them feel uncomfortable and I wanted them to think that I was a better photographer because I didn’t need a lot of time to get great images.
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But, when I went to edit the images, I always got mad at myself for not slowing down and paying closer attention to details to really make the shot great. Maybe a hair was out of place and I had to spend too much time retouching it, or maybe I wasn’t paying close enough attention to a distracting element in the background… this all cost me time in post and it totally impacted my own satisfaction with my work.
The truth is, sometimes a photo can be totally spontaneous and totally beautiful with a lucky (even if strategic) click of the shutter. But, most of the time it’s more beneficial to slow down and be a little more intentional with each frame.
Having said all that, on a wedding day and during shoots with young kids, sometimes you just have to be fast. Sometimes the timeline is tight and you have to hustle to get the shots you need. Sometimes that kid will smile for just a nanosecond before he runs off again wanting nothing to do with the camera. In those cases, practice and experience are invaluable in allowing you to simultaneously work really fast while still paying attention to all of those details. I’ll admit that sometimes working fast is the only way to get the shot. And sometimes, being fast is the point of the shoot (trying to capture that child in motion, for example!)
However, when you do have a few minutes, when you can take advantage, slowing down is key to getting great images. Taking an extra few seconds to adjust that out of place hair conveys to the person in front of your camera that you care about details and you want to get the best photo of them. Slowing down to adjust a shirt so that it is more flattering makes people feel confident that you’re going to make them look their best in each shot. Nobody doesn’t want that. 😉
There is a point, though, where you could be too slow. If you’re sensing your subject is getting impatient, might be time to speed up the pace just a bit. 😉
Being slower and more methodical, taking your time with setting up each shot, those aren’t signs of inexperience. Those are signs you TOTALLY know what you’re doing. That’s a sign you’ve done this before, that you know how it’s done, and you know how to get a great shot.
It took me a while to get there, but when I did I can definitely say my work improved and I became so much happier with my work! And I think my clients did also.
If you’re feeling this sense of rush every time you’re on a shoot, you’re not alone! Just remember to breathe. Remind yourself that being fast doesn’t necessarily make you better. And remember that if you spend just a few more seconds now making sure you pay attention to details as you compose each shot, you’ll feel so much better about the work you create and even save yourself hours of Photoshop work later. 😉
By the way, all the photos included in this post were chosen because I remember specifically taking my time to compose (and sometimes recompose multiple times) each shot despite that feeling of rush and pressure to not make people wait for me. And each time, it paid off.