Shoot First. Ask Questions Later.

Upload from January 24, 2012

Photographs deal in split seconds. There is a mere instant seperating an incredible image from a mediocre one. Learning to develop your photographic reflexes is a huge part of creating better work, but it’s not just a matter of reaction time. No sir.

See, there are decisions that you are constantly making as a photographer. And the first one is often the most important.

It is the very simple decision to take a photo. 

Have you ever been in a situation where you thought to yourself: “Should I take a photo of this?”. I do it all the time. But the problem is that by the simple act of asking yourself that question, you may have let the moment pass.

Yep, it can be that fleeting. By the time you’ve thought about the question, decided to shoot, and brought the camera up to your eye, the incredible image has disappeared.

So one of the first steps to developing your photographic reflexes is to get in the mindset of “Shoot First. Ask Questions Later”. Which is a very simple idea. Don’t ask yourself if you should shoot something. Just shoot it. You can decide after the fact whether that image is worth keeping. But unless you took it in the first place, you won’t have that opportunity.

From there your reflexes for setting exposure, composing, and pressing the shutter take over. And these are things to be constantly practicing. The faster you can complete those steps, the sooner you can take the photo.

But it all begins with the decision to shoot. So stop asking yourself, and just shoot.

Lauren Lim

Hey friend, I’m Lauren! I’m a photography ninja here at Photography Concentrate. I’m downright obsessed with photography, and love sharing it with super cool folks like yourself. When I’m not shooting, or writing, you can find me cooking (and eating!), traveling, and hanging out with wonderful people.

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11 Comments // Leave a comment

  1. you are so right. If your gut tells you to do it, just go. The trickiest part truly is catching the moment. Everything else can be modified…

  2. So true…funny you say that..I started a 85 Days 85 Photos with an 85mm lens and just took o break from my normal goverment And, I took a walk around and was thinking to myself! "Should shoot that or not? or "What should I shoot?"…as the camera stayed in my bag..

  3. It's a balancing act. Sometimes I find myself doing this (generally when total strangers on the street are involved) and by the time I succumb to my wife's nagging, the image is gone. Other times, it's the opposite where I get so excited about the image, I don't spend enough time on the details (composition, shutter, background) and then the photo doesn't do the image justice. Premature shooting I guess.

  4. Christian says:

    This is so true! Just try and capture it even though you're insecure wether the print will go down in photographic history or not. Even if I end up deleting a whole import without a single keeper among them (not that I ever do ;D ) at least I've had the opptunity to do so and have had to _think_ about why each photo didn't work. That _practice_ I can put to use the next time I whip out my camera. :D

  5. This is exactly right! So often, when something really visually interesting happens, I just stand there and think 'hey that's cool', gormlessly holding my camera pointing downwards as though it had nothing to do with anything! I think that's why it's so important to have your camera with you all the time, so there ends up no difference between seeing things and snapping.

  6. Léo Veiga says:

    Hi Lauren!
    I just discovered your site and fell in love with it! I really love your articles! Thank you for sharing!
    Looking for something in Brazil I am at your disposal!

  7. agree! I ask myself too much. But I'm showing progress now.

  8. agree! I ask myself too much. But I'm showing progress now.

  9. So True!!! I need to get out of my own way and just do it! Thanks for the pep talk :)

  10. I think for the most part most of us miss that awesome shot due to fear and should use the shoot first and fast method but I don't totally agree with this in some instances. When travelling in some countries I have realized that my camera makes people feel really uncomfortable because they don't understand what you are doing. I have left some amazing photos behind, to live in my memories because the shot is never as important to me as showing my respect for others is.

  11. I do this all the time and hesitate…. and hesitate some more. Especially if the photo I'm trying to take is including some random person in it.

    The first thing comes to mind is.. "should I ask the person first?" and then I just don't do anything at all and leave.

    Great advise Lauren. Very useful for me as a newbie. :)

    If by chance that someone confronts you about taking the picture. Do you delete the photo you just took?

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