Process for Taking a Great Photograph

When I said that professionals get salable shots no matter what, it is because they are paying attention to the things that effect the overall outcome of the photograph. The easiest way I know to boil that down is to do a step by step approach to taking a photo.

1) Select the focal length that will achieve the desired result.
2) Select the aperture that will achieve the desired result.
3) Make sure the shutter speed at that aperture is suitable for hand holding your camera. If it is too slow, you can stabilize the camera, use a monopod or tripod, or increase the ISO setting.
4) Check/Create the composition of the shot. Check your background!
5) Do any posing, if necessary or desired for the photograph you are taking.
6) Take the photo.

If you don’t understand all those things, don’t worry. That is the purpose of this series. To go through each of those things. It also assumes that you have good lighting for the shot. I just wanted to outline it because it is going to be the same process over and over again and I will use that outline to go through examples.

If all that seems to complicated or too much work, don’t worry. The more you do it, the more it will be come second nature. Kind of like when you first started driving. You had your hands at 10 and 2, checked your mirrors every 30 seconds and were pretty conscious of doing everything you needed to do. Pretty soon you are driving with your knee because you have a cheeseburger in your left hand, and selecting songs with your right. It won’t take long and especially items 1 through 3 will come so fast that you don’t need to think about them.

Keep in mind that this process assumes a couple things. First, I talk about selecting aperture in step 2. This method assumes more of interest that favors people, portraits and landscapes as opposed to fast action like sports. In sports shooting, your major concern is going to be shutter speed to get the effect you desire. For most other shooting, I feel that aperture is one of the biggest creative controls that you have at your disposal. Second, I may have boiled this all down to a “process” but I didn’t mention putting any feeling into your photograph. I will write a post about that later. But to take a good photograph, you should tell a good story. This process is just the technical step by step of producing a great photograph, and we will visit the emotional side of that later.

Happy shooting!

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