Art Model, Susan ©2013 Terrell Neasley

“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.” 
 –Bruce Lee

Check this out. I wanna cover a few details of some things of note that I believe can help transform you into a better shooter. It may not make sense right off the bat, but stick with me. I think you will be helped by do LESS of these things:

Ignore TV… Less!
What you see on TV is the final product of someone’s content creation efforts. You can learn a plethora of information by observing what images made the final cut. Check out all the lighting schemes, posing, and final edits that you see. How effective do you think they were? What message do they convey and how successful do you feel they were at getting your attention at evoking an emotion in you to act on whatever they were selling, promoting, or entertaining you.

We often times get left in the dust with recent trends. TV gives you an idea of what some of the latest technology is doing and how its being creatively implemented. You succeed when you can begin to backwards engineer what you see. Figure out how its done and get ideas on what techniques or best practices you can employ in your own work. At the very least, you can see what the everyone else is doing and how you might differentiate yourself. Know what’s happening around you and do something different. You don’t always have to follow what the latest favorite is doing. In fact, I highly recommend it.

Art Model, Susan ©2013 Terrell Neasley

Watch TV… LESS!
All to often, the thing that can hamper us most is Television. We’ll have at least 3 TV’s in the house to keep us updated on our favorite shows, like the Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, or Dragon Ball Super. People can go nuts over these programs. Sheesh… Back Away From the Idiot Box! I say that in jest, but don’t get caught up in TV, too much.

If you can back away from some of the ad-laced content for a while, check out a book on photo for a change. Learn about some new night shooting techniques. Go watch an educational video on Lightroom. There are plenty of free stuff out there, but I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage… “You get what you pay for”. Maybe try a paid subscription service to up your game a little bit. I’ve always advocated pulling out your camera’s manual and familiarizing yourself with features you had no idea existed, right there at your fingertips. And then go practice with it.

Study… LESS!
Here’s a new one. Get your head out of the books and go SHOOT! Study long…Study wrong is what my Uncle Sly used to tell me when playing basketball. The more you contemplate your shot, the more likely you’re gonna miss it. Never more true. Paralysis by Analysis. There’s only so much you can fill your brain with at one time. Most of the time, what you really need is to put the books down and go pick up the camera and just shoot! Experiment. Who learned to ride a bike with a book? What person researched the mechanics of swimming before jumping in the water? Some things you learn by doing.

Yes, some research, study, reading, and observation is good for us. But at some point, you have to put it all down and let your mind and muscles work together with repetition and effort to finally learn something new. Go shoot! I can’t emphasis that enough. Studying something too long is a huge contributor to procrastination. I know for fact this is speaking to some of you out there. Its time now to put to practice some of the brilliant things you’ve learned. Go for it.

Art Model, Susan ©2013 Terrell Neasley

“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful.” 

–John Maeda

Shoot… LESS!
You got that right. Shoot a whole lot less! I’ve worked with some students that I tell to shoot MORE. The vast majority of you, however, should shoot LESS. This is one case where LESS is truly MORE. The spray and pray concept of photography is only applicable in sports and other jobs where capturing the decisive moment requires advanced anticipation and a fast shutter. Shooting at 14 frames per second to capture the money shot of Russell Wilson escaping the clutches of a NFC West defender showing the look on the guy’s face as that split second passes where he KNEW he had the sack, then nothing but air. Yeah…you can’t try to time that shot and expect to get anything. No way. You select the drive mode for Hi-Continuous and you roll like Rambo.

When you come back with 30,000 images from a weekend camping trip, just know that you have a problem. Stop friggin’ shooting so much! If you want to immediately have an impact on better photography, shoot less! Limit yourself and become more selective about what you are taking a picture of. And there’s no need to get 12 versions of the same shot. All you’re really looking for are a few good shots that tell the story or deliver the message. Personally, I’m a 10%er. It roughly averages out to editing a tenth of whatever I shoot. I come back from a gig with 300 images…I’m netting about 30 edited shots. I believe I usually shoot about 100 shots an hour when I’m doing constant shooting. That means I’m on a gig or have a photographic purpose in mind and when I’m finished shooting, I go home. So that’s different from going on a day trip with my girlfriend and we’re on the road for 15 hours. I may only come home with 200 images total because we are shooting, but we’re also hiking and exploring and shooting between locations.

Art Model, Susan ©2013 Terrell Neasley

It saves you some time having to cull a million shots, but more importantly, WE DON’T WANT TO, NOR DO WE HAVE TIME TO LOOK AT EVERY-FRIGGIN’ SHOT YOU TOOK! So just calm down a bit. Play the roll of a sniper instead of Machine Gun Freddie. Take some time to look at your composition and understand what makes it a good shot vs a snapshot by a tourist. You didn’t buy that expensive camera to come back with the same kind of shots you’ve always been taking. Get to know the camera. Take if off automatic and get creative with it. Shoot less, but maybe more often. How’s that for a compromise. Now, you have some things to mull over. Get to it.