When does the master F-ing Stop?

The Master does his job
and then stops.

Tao te Ching, #30   (S. Mitchel translation)

How did you like that stupid f-stop pun in the title? Yep. That’s the kind of thing that no sleep will get you.  I need to talk shop for a minute. If you are a photographer or similar creative professional, I’d like your thoughts on this…

Plagued by over-shooting and wasted time in front of Lightroom.

I’ve fallen into a terrible habit in my photography:  I’m burying myself in work, and totally unnecessarily.  I am shooting FAR more than necessary.  I’ll set up a shot, compose, click a frame, then proceed to click off many,  many more.  “Hey, it’s digital, I have room on the card, why not?  I’d rather over-shoot and get the shot than only take a few frames and find that they didn’t work out”.  This seems like a professional attitude, I tell myself.  Over preparation is a solid game plan when you are doing something professionally, right?  I get home and load the images into Lightroom. I start culling the images and I am noticing a few things:

  • I’m shooting anywhere between 3 – 8 times the number of frames that I actually deliver to my clients. I can live with 2x, but 3 – 8x is just wasting all kinds of resources.
  • This is creating a lengthy culling process that I loathe and subsequently procrastinate doing, which leads to losing sleep, barely making deadlines, unnecessary stress, etc.
  • Lightroom gets bogged down with unnecessary preview rendering, making the whole process much slower than it needs to be, exacerbating  my loathing and procrastination of the editing process
  • I’ll typically compose a scene and then shoot many, many frames of it. 85% of the time, the “keeper” is the first frame I shot.  95% of the time, the keeper is within the first 3 shots.  Very rarely was that 10th frame the one that I really needed to have.

I really need to tighten up my post production process so that it’s not so tedious.  The tedium is eating away at my creative energy. I realize that some of this needs to happen during the shoot.  Do you have any thoughts on how to shoot more effectively, more efficiently, and how to make the post production process run more efficiently?  I want to spend more time doing creative things with my images, and less time wading through piles of images I won’t even use.

Ideas? Suggestions? Thoughts? Post them below in the comments section.

And to get all philosophical on your asses…  I believe that a true master does his task, recognizes that it is done, and then stops.  What fear am I dealing with here? Is it an insecurity with my technical skills? Is it laziness – a refusal to compose that first shot very carefully, shoot it, check the screen, and then move on?  Is it a lack of trust in my instincts that I got it right in that first shutter click?  WTF is going on here?  Do any of you deal with similar issues?

1 comment
  1. It sounds like you’ve answered your own question. I believe you need to trust your instincts more. I can relate because I’ve been in the same rut of shooting 10 frames of the same composition because I want to get the shot I see in my mind and sometimes I get it in 1 or 2 frames or I don’t get the shot at all after 20. Sometimes the composition I have in mind just won’t work for that particular person and I just have let go of that idea and try something else that works. I think when you can let go of what you’re used to doing then creativity & spontaneity come into play and often that is when you get THE SHOT and the shoot is more effective. I think as professional photographers it’s easy to get in the monotonous shooting mode. When I feel like this I do a personal project like putting together shoot that will inspire my creativity. So there’s my 2 cents.
    Good luck Dane!

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