Even when you have the perfect shot… Take three more.
I know, not very a prophetic statement. The simple reasoning behind this is very intentional. I still believe that there is magic in the unexpected. When you consciously aim for getting the perfect picture you line up your expectations, abilities, and variables. You know the angle and distance for your shot. You know the lighting and exposure settings on your camera. You have a grasp on the things ‘out of your control’ (think of rogue clouds in a landscape, or a model that struggles with direction, or even a rogue dog that wants to make a cameo). You shoot and may end up at the desired shot in just a few frames or even dozens of exposures. Regardless of how long it takes, there’s a point where you feel that you’ve accomplished your goal. You have captured the picture you were going for.
You move on and change your mindset to move on to the next shot. Write notes for editing afterwards. Or perhaps pack up and call it a day. I like to make it part of my process at this moment to take three more pictures. Three more simple pictures. No big setup changes – just quick pics. Perhaps you lay on the ground or lean in from above for a new angle. A lens change for a more or less intimate picture. I have a fondness for the digital noise of older DSLR cameras, so I’ll adjust to a higher ISO for some of that grain, saturation, and warmth.
That sense of “I’ve already got the shot I wanted” helps remove expectations. I like to call this a “rinsing the palette”. The prescriptive rigidness is removed. It doesn’t matter if the shot is good or not. It’s about freeing any restrictions and shooting with a clear head. Those three additional shots for me sometimes lead to a better picture. But mostly they inspire me to try something new. Perhaps revisiting the same shot on another day with new ideas. Or taking that inspiration to another picture.
I’ve tried this process in reverse with the intention of “getting the creative juices flowing”. It all depends on your own style and comfort. When I am recording music, this reverse process works very well in Combating Red Light Syndrome.
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