I think that everyone reading this blog post, photographer or not, would agree with me when I say that their time is precious. I want to spend my time doing the things I enjoy, and I try my best to use my work time as efficiently as possible. So, how can you be more “efficient” with your photography? Here are a few techniques that I try to follow when using my camera and editing images:
When you are creating a photograph take inventory of everything inside your viewfinder space and ask yourself if it’s what you want. Sometimes we get caught up in the moment and don’t notice the little details, which could range from stray hairs to what your lighting looks like. Or (even worse) we notice mistakes that can easily be fixed during the shoot and say those six horrible words that should never pass our lips: “I can fix it in Photoshop”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Photoshop and there are several examples of images that can’t be created without it, but when you’re spending half of your editing time cloning out cookie crumbs from the 30+ photos of a little kid you just photographed you’ll wish you took 15 seconds with a napkin to get them off before the shoot.
Avoid “machine-gunning” your photos.
Every time you press the shutter you are creating an image that you will import into your computer and do something with (even if it’s just deciding you don’t want to edit it), and shooting in continuous mode all the time (several frames per second with each press of the shutter) will exponentially increase your editing time. I have found that as I develop my skills as a photographer I am taking fewer and fewer photos, but I end up with just as many, or more, “keepers” than I did in the past. I am selective about my shots and know that want to think about everything I see in the frame and only press the shutter when I’m sure I have what I want. It doesn’t result in a great photo every time, but I know become a better photographer every time I press my shutter and don’t just hope I get a good shot due to “luck”. There are going to be moments when shooting several frames-per-second is appropriate, so the key is to know when to use that method.
Learn keyboard shortcuts.
Trust me … keyboard shortcuts are your friend. Nearly every photo-editing software program has shortcuts and it’s to your benefit to learn them, and in some programs you can even change them and create your own. So get out there and put that non-dominant hand to work! If you can sit at your computer and have one hand on your mouse (or tablet pen) and one hand on your keyboard at all times then you are doing it right.
Know your camera.
The last thing you want to be doing while in the moment of taking pictures (especially when your time is limited) is pulling out your manual to figure something out. Know your camera inside-and-out. Read your manual, tinker with the settings on your camera when you’re just sitting around the house, and force yourself to learn about that weird feature on your camera you think you may never use. You never know when it will be useful.
Taking 10 minutes to think through a photo-shoot, walk, event, or whatever you plan on photographing can make the time you are actually holding your camera much more valuable. You might not know what environment you will be shooting in, or what the people/product/building/etc. looks like, but you can still try to be mindful about your photography, lighting equipment, etc. If you are picking the location then scout areas ahead of time at the same time of day you will be taking photos, or if shooting a portrait spend time with your client and ask them questions like what they will be wearing, what “look” they would like, etc. Try to visualize the final product in your head and go to the shoot fully prepared.
Nicole S. Young is a professional photographer living in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of several print books and eBooks, and runs her own online store for photographers, the “Nicolesy Store“.