See it, Shoot it, Move On

The other day I decided to try an exercise, (not a physical one, though I desperately need that too) but rather an exercise in photography. I am one of those creative people who cannot just do. I must hem and haw and ponder and over-think and re-think, and over-analyze most of what I do. My spouse calls me indecisive, I call myself a perfectionist, thorough…a Virgo. Even as I compose this, my first-ever blog, I will have made several rough drafts before copying and pasting here. But we all know that sometimes in photography one must be spontaneous and shoot without thinking….see it, shoot it, move on.

So my exercise was to shoot without thinking. Traffic lights, signs, street scenes, etc…I was shooting with nary a thought in mind except the notion that my battery might not hold out. Shooting from the hip, as it were, was liberating and empowering. I was seeing it, shooting it, and moving on. It was fun, and for an anxiety-ridden, pessimistic cynic like myself, that‘s saying something.

My Canon was set on auto-everything, and I was surprised at what kind of composition one can achieve when one is not setting up every nuance of a shot; the resulting images were not nearly as hideous as I had imagined. They were not gallery-worthy, but not snap-shots either; I think I achieved what I had set out to do…I saw it, I shot it, I moved on. I allowed myself to experience a freedom in photography which I seldom have the chance to enjoy.

The photo to the left is an example of what I’m talking about. I was driving and saw the tree, slowed the mini-van, grabbed the camera, shot, and drove on. Not bad for a quick shot while taxiing my kids around town.

By taking on these small, self-appointed challenges once in a while, I’m able to remind myself not to be so staid, in not only my photographic life, but in my personal life, as well.


"One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you'd be stricken blind."

© Krey

Dorthea Lange

born 5/26/1895 died 10/11/1965

Photo credits: Kristin Johnson.

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April 20, 2010


I do so agree and I love the quote. I am an artist who struggles somewhat with the technical side of photography so a successful spontaneous shot is a joy.

April 17, 2010


I agree. There is a big difference between emotion and analysis. The greatest photographers use the analysis to ensure correct exposure , composition, etc.. and use emotion to succumb themselves to the image or photo op that manifests. Depending on the end usage, we tilt the balance between analytical and the emotional. eg. a commercial shot or a stock image is more analytical . thus the necessity to stop thinking like a photographer and more of a buyer. It becomes a product not an image of art. For gallery and our own aspiration as an artist, it tilts to the emotional.
But all in all, the more we talk about it, the more we kill the beauty of our photograph. I remember the opening statement of "Nine" where the director explains why he hates to discuss his movies. "You kill it, when you put it on paper, when you talk about it,etc.."

April 17, 2010


Hi Kristin, I absolutely agree with you: See it, shoot it and move on... Sometimes you achieve the best photo results if you just shoot spontaneous. Of course it´s hard for a perfectionist to do so ;) But there are always some great results in the end. So it´s worth it. Thanks for writing this article and sharing your thoughts/experience!

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