Slow down and take your time. That's the best advice I was given years ago when I first picked up a camera and it's a lot easier said than done. For me it took practice and can still be a challenge. I was like many photographers starting out - eager, excited and lacking patience. It's so easy to want to move fast and get to the next image. It's especially easy these days with gigabytes upon gigabytes of empty storage space just waiting in our cameras to be filled. But we gain almost nothing by quickly moving from one composition to the next. If you find a composition that you like, slow down and take your time. Make sure it's framed just right. Make sure all the camera's settings are where you want them. Give yourself time to see what happens when the light changes or if you slow the shutter speed down by a 1/4 of a second. You might be surprised how your photography improves by simply slowing down and taking your time. Remember, photography is about quality not quantity.
The photos below were taken less than 10 minutes apart. They're obviously slightly different compositions but I generally knew how I wanted the final image to look. I had a feeling that being patient would pay off in that situation as the conditions were good for the sky to "explode" with color. Now, there's nothing wrong with the first image, the clouds are actually quite interesting and make for a fairly dynamic photo. But the second image is much stronger, with the clouds changing dramatically in color after the sun went below the horizon. I achieved this by doing nothing but waiting(sure I moved a few feet to the left but that didn't have an effect on the lighting). I could have easily been bouncing around the pier, going composition to composition but I think I would have ended up with many mediocre images as opposed to one good image. I think this pair of photographs demonstrates perfectly what can happen when we just slow down and focus on making one solid composition.
I also think that if we want to make better photographs we have to slow down and take our time after the shutter is pressed. The editing process is an important part of photography and rushing through it is just as bad as rushing the process of creating the image and potentially worse. One habit I've formed in recent years is 2 fold: 1) I don't process any images on the day they were made - I'll download them to the hard drive and come back usually the next day to see which images I want to keep. 2) Once I've gone through the images and process any I want to keep to a "publishable" point, I will then leave those for another day or two and come back periodically to view them. I've found that when I don't do this and I try to rush an image out, usually in attempt to get "quick credit"(which almost always ends with a bad image and regret) I end up with a photo like the one here of the "blood moon" from last October. It's just not a good image and wouldn't pass the basic test of "Would I hang this on my wall?" Had I slowed down and let this image stay on my computer for a few days I would have decided, likely, not to share it at all. But I did share it(regrettably) shortly after creating it and it even received some "quick credit" as it was shared by a local tourism site. But they shared an image I don't even like and why would I want that? For me photography is largely about sharing photos that I like and photos that would pass that test of whether or not I would hang it in my own home. Of course I would love for everyone to like my photos but if I don't like one of my photos the viewer likely won't either. By slowing down the "process" and taking my time it gives me more opportunity to rethink the compositions that I've created and ultimately share the best possible photo or maybe not share a photo at all. My process may seem a little slow and I'm certainly not saying that this is a perfect formula or will even work for you, but for me it's the best way to create quality photographs - Slow down and take your time.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post! Stay tuned as there will be another post in a few weeks - a new 'Photographer Profile' post in fact! If you're not on the email list to receive blog post updates and other information and want to be just fill out the form below.