Get Your Shots Right... Before You Click the Shutter!


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)

written by aspie on 2011-10-17 #gear #tutorials #landscape #camera #tipster #composition #shot-framing #subject-positioning #reverse-blinking


  1. poochfan
    poochfan ·

    Great idea!

  2. narkalen
    narkalen ·

    Great idea if you do not want to wate film, but one the wonders of analog photography is that you won't see the results until the development process, that's the magic of Lomography, isn't it? However, if I'm using a SLR camera I would totally use this tip!

  3. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    i like your tipster a lot! and your pictures show it's working very well! @narkalen: analogue photography isn't only lomography, there are many people who go the "classic" analogue way trying not to shoot from the hip, but composing thorougly and thoughtfully (even with their lomo cams). but you're right, it's traditionally mostly slrs.... :)

  4. emilios
    emilios ·

    Great idea! Well done, i like it!

  5. revolte
    revolte ·

    Lo ideal es fotografiar con la mirada, como hacían algunos fotógrafos, salvo que estos preferían no disparar y guardar ese instante en sus memorias. Saludos

  6. narkalen
    narkalen ·

    @laurasulilly yes you are right, as we are on the Lomography site I thought tips were oriented to Lomography and its 'philosophy'. Anyways, I believe it is a very good tip especially if you don't want to waste film

    Regards to the both of you!

  7. aspie
    aspie ·

    I hope I haven't been controversial! I think this is a good habit if you choose to use the viewfinder. I do like shooting from the hip, but I believe that takes a degree of confidence (which I am sometimes lacking).

  8. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    each according to his or her liking, that's my credo. so @aspie: your tipster is just as great as any of the comments- @narkalen: thanks for your reply, i appreciate it a lot! :)

  9. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    ps: and it's never bad to be controversial i think (although i don't think this tipster is, actually), it keeps up discussion :) again, great tipster, great pictures! :)

  10. biancaray
    biancaray ·

    I like it...I do have this issues sometimes I stare at things forever...will try it next time!

  11. fischadler
    fischadler ·

    Fischadler. Great idea on how to save film. Will be trying next time .

  12. g_leo
    g_leo ·

    ...something to remember when I have that moment... Thanks aspie ;)

  13. pavlov
    pavlov ·

    Great tipster! I'll use it with expensive rolls! :)

    But one more thing. Looking at your pictures I want to say; never doubt again! They are beautiful!

  14. aspie
    aspie ·

    @pavlov, thanks! I use this with the expensive ones too...

  15. renenob
    renenob ·

    I am a doubtful shooter too! This is very helpful tip. Will try this when in doubt again.

  16. emperornorton
    emperornorton ·

    Sometimes it is best to adopt the philosophy of Garry Winogrand. Winogrand was a consumate street photographer who would go out with his Leica and just shoot picture after picture as he walked. He would then freeze the film for six months before developing it. He did this so that he would forget what was on the roll and be able to select without preconceptions based on the feelings he had at the time he took the picture.

    I shoot nature like Winogrand shot people in urban settings. There's something to the technique.

  17. diy
    diy ·

    I never thought of that, great idea! Sometimes i turn down loads of pics due to such Picture anxiety.

  18. flick_orange
    flick_orange ·

    i absolutly agree with you
    i prefer to 'think before you shoot' than 'dont think just shoot'
    it makes you shoot better photograph. better in content, composition, or framing
    camera is just the media, you choose the result
    right photograph which give you better photograph or just click your camera to spend your film :D

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