Monday, December 6, 2010

Set Specific Goals

In photography (as well as in life, of course), it's very important to set goals. If you don't set goals, how do you know where you are going?

Here is an example of what I mean.

While teaching a private workshop in Mongolia, the student and I had the opportunity to get the shot that every horse photographer wants to get: a shot of the horse with all the hooves off the ground.

To get the shot, I told the student that we had to (and you can use these tips when photographing fast-moving subjects):

1) Set our Canon 5D cameras to the AI Servo focus mode - which tracks a moving subject right up until the moment of exposure.

2) Choose the rapid frame advance mode.

3) Compose the scene (using our Canon 100-400mm IS lenses) with lots of space around the subject – so no important parts were cut off.

4) Choose a shooting position where the light was just right.

5) Carefully watch the background so that the subject was completely isolated.

6) Take several series of images to ensure at least one good shot.

7) Use a shutter speed of at least 1/000th of a second to freeze the action.

8) Shoot with both eyes open - so we could see if something was coming into the frame that would ruin our pictures.

9) Check all our camera settings (ISO, Image Quality, white balance, etc.) to get the best possible in-camera exposure.

• • •

Setting the specific goal beforehand, and going through the motions of taking the shot in our hotel rooms, we became comfortable with the process. When we got on site, we practiced the process again and again - before the show.

All our practicing made getting the shot relatively easy - again, because we set a specific goal.

So . . . I told this story to my students while teaching a workshop at the Light Photographic Workshops in Los Osos, CA. The next day were were going to photograph horses running on the beach.

Guess what? They all set goals . . . and they all got the shot.

Explore the light,

P.S. Here is a joke that's kinda related to setting goals: Christopher Columbus.... When he left the Old World, he did not know where he was going. When he got there, he did not know where he was. When he got back, he did not know where he had been. So much for setting goals :-)


Ted Johnson said...

I did this recently when shooting the Suncoast Jazz Classic. I knew that stage clutter, mikes, stands, speakers, etc., would be a problem. Therefore, I set a preshoot goal of tight shots concentrating on the musician's expressions, hands, feet, and instruments. It worked out great yielding some very good shots of expression and gesture. The Canon 70-200 2.8 IS was the perfect lens for this project.

Levent said...


Great post as always.

My personal photo goal is usually to do more, with less equipment.

Last year I caught a stand-up comedian with both his hooves off the ground.

See here:

In my case it was pure luck and not clever forethought as in your blog post.

Have a happy holiday season and I hope I run into you in the coming year,

Levent (on the beach in St.Croix)