Do you take photographs?

Do you TAKE photographs?

I do, sometimes. I shouldn’t – I should know better – but I do.

I was reminded of this on a sunny September morning when I was driving along the Carrowreagh Road between Dundonald and Holywood and I remembered the big field of maize that for a few weeks I’d wanted to photograph. There it was!  Looking splendid in the sunshine and there’s even somewhere to pull over and park and I’d got a few minutes to spare!  I stopped and got out the Fujifilm X-T30. 

I occupied my mind with the composition. The camera position, its height, the crop. I tried two different lenses. I watched my exposure meter, to make sure that the shots were properly exposed. 

Camera positions:

But when I got home, and I looked at the images and pulled up the meta data, I asked myself, ‘why on earth did I shoot with the camera shutter at 1/500th sec?’  There was no movement in the corn, the ISO could easily have been adjusted. The average f/ stop was mid range, around f/ or f5.6. There was no reason for such a fast shutter speed. 

Corn – standing still in a field – unmoving!

Basically I had simply ‘taken’ a photograph.   Now there’s many good images that have been taken by accident – after all, some events are instantaneous, one-off occurrences and the photographer needs to press the shutter, ready or not.  But I’m convinced that the best images are well thought out, well planned and well well researched in advance. Good photographs are made, not taken. 


And that’s what is so annoying!  I keep a notebook in my camera bag for this very purpose.  It’s a habit I learned when I did my HND Photography – when I needed to write up notes on every shoot.   The idea is that before you begin a photoshoot, or make an image, that you take time to plan the to plan.  Sketch the scene, outline your objectives and ideas, figure out what you want to achieve by way of depth of field, motion blur etc, and how you will achieve that.  What aperture, what shutter speed, what ISO, what filters…?  Note your ideas down BEFORE YOU EVEN LIFT THE CAMERA.  If you are working to a brief, jot down how you intend to fulfil the brief.  

Then, when you get home, and you transfer the images to your computer, see if your plans have been successful.  Assess your images honestly, and write up your notes.  Keep your notebook for future reference.

So, my advice is to get yourself a notebook – and use it to plan your shoots.  Its a good habit.  Don’t just take photographs.  Make them!



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