If, like me, your life is plagued by self-doubt, anxiety and neuroisis, then you will occasionally come across the feeling that maybe, just maybe, the photo you’re about to take isn’t really worth taking after all. Maybe it would be better to save the film, maybe for a party or something. But you sort of like the shot… To shoot or not to shoot: here is the answer!
I do this all the time, because I’m indecisive about such things. But I have a technique that helps me make my mind up whether to take the shot, or save the film.
Douglas Coupland described in a short story a process he liked to call ‘reverse blinking’. That is, closing his eyes, then flashing them open for an instant, then closed again. That’s it, you guessed it – exactly like a camera’s shutter.
Try it. You only see the image for a split second, but that’s all it takes. I believe that the best photographs are the most memorable ones. If the image you saw for that split second strikes you as interesting, captures your attention, and above all appears to be the kind of photograph you’d like to take, then go ahead with the pointing and the clicking.
Here’s an example: I’m on holiday with my mum, sitting in an apartment by the beach. I can see her reading on the balcony. I try a reverse blink. I shift around a bit and try again. There! There’s the shot.
If you’re more of a spontaneous photographer then this might not be for you, but sometimes you might find it useful if you want to check the framing of your subject, or the composition of your landscape. But take a look at some of these photos and imagine the reverse blinks that preceeded them. If I hadn’t tried it, I might not have taken them.
Coupland, Douglas; The Wrong Sun, from Life After God, (Pocket Books, Canada, 1994)