From Shooting Everything to Shooting With Intention

live awake for your life and the people who matter most

It’s easy to get lost behind your lens, hunting down your next masterpiece… and when it feels like you’re on the verge of magic (or on the opposite side, the magic feels like a lost cause), it’s easy to feel the need to hold the shutter down… click, click, click, click.

It’s like a reflex to push the shutter in hopes you get SOMETHING.

Ever felt that way?

For me, I get the shutter finger jitters most when I’m photographing for clients, because half of my brain is focused on the scene and what’s happening (as it should) and the other half is like:

‘Marie, you MUST create magic for them. Do not miss a thing.’

In the past, this little voice has caused me to shoot everything amounting to nothing when I cull…. feeling like an ‘over-shooter.

So what defines someone who “overshoots?”

I’ve struggled with this answer. Several photographers I’ve mentored have felt like they overshoot.

Here’s what I think: if you’re clicking, clicking, clicking with no motive other than hoping not to miss a moment – a moment which you aren’t exactly recognizing – maybe it’s time to slow down + take in some observation-practice.

If you’re clicking, clicking, clicking with a motive – you’re on a hunt to nail that something in front of you in the best way, moving + working the frame to get the photo you’re after, then I think that’s shooting with intention.

See the difference?

A few weekends ago, I was shooting with intention. I thought I’d share how that felt, because not so long ago, I’m not sure I understood the difference.

Kids + pets are a busy combination. Normally, I’d be running around like a fool, hoping that I’d find SOMETHING worthy of shooting, and couldn’t barely keep up!

Instead, this time, I waited and hawk-eyed moments that presented themselves as something – for some reason – I had to keep. Maybe these will be meaningless photos to you, but I already printed my faves to display in my home.

These moments matter to us.

Shooting in this approach helps to feel fully in control of the scene even when you aren’t technically controlling what’s happening.

Question: Do you wait for moments or do you work to make moments happen? I’d love to know (and so would other photographers) your approach and works for you. Comment below!

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So what defines a moment worth shooting?

I can’t answer that for you. Only you can answer that for yourself. And this takes a great deal of practice + time in the field, as I described in how I discovered my inner message here. For me, a moment worth shooting is simply something in the scene in front of me that screams SOMETHING I wanna remember: a detail about a story, motion that I can stop forever, or something that makes me feel an emotion (love, anger, laughter, anything).

Have you ever tried any shooting exercises where you sit there and watch for something in particular – maybe even without your camera? Strategic observation is the best tool and something you can practice anywhere, anytime to help you become an intentional shooter.

One last tip, when you become familiar with shooting something in particular – weddings for example – the more you shoot the situation, the stronger you become. Without a doubt I know this to be true, because some of my best photos are of my children… my #1 subject.

I’ve picked up the camera and felt rusty in a way in a new situations. On other side, last summer coming off of 5 back-to-back weddings, the photos got stronger with each wedding, due to the environment becoming familiar. Even with each wedding completely different, there are still similarities in the moments to watch for. So with practice, you have heightened anticipation skills!

If you feel like you’re shooting a bit on the overkill side, take time to think about why you’re shooting in the first place. Are you consistently shooting new subjects or are you working a familiar scene and mastering it? Seriously, comment below. I’m reading!

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