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40 Questions I ask Myself before Hitting the Shutter Release

Image: Image by Darwin Bell

Image by Darwin Bell

The following was submitted by one of our readers – Jan Neault Phillips. It’s a little tongue in cheek (40 questions before every photo might be a little difficult, particularly if you’re photographing my kids who move at the speed of light) but also contains some good information on the type of things a photographer should be thinking about as they prepare for a shot (or perhaps for a ‘shoot’).

So I’m walking along with my camera and I see a wonderful scene that would make a great photo…

Before I Hit the Shutter I Ask Myself:

  1. What mode do I want to shoot in? Manual, AP, SP, Auto or a pre-programed mode?
  2. If I’m using a pre-set, what F-Stop or Shutter Speed am I going to use?
  3. What format do I want to shoot in RAW or jpeg?
  4. What’s my ISO? Is it fast/slow enough?
  5. Too grainy for the shot?
  6. What White Balance am I set on?
  7. Do I need to set custom White Balance?
  8. Did I bring my 18% Grey Card?
  9. What Metering Mode should I be on?
  10. What Colour setting do I need?
  11. Am I going to use Manual or Auto Focus?
  12. Do I want to Bracket the shot?
  13. Am I going to use a Flash?
  14. And how am I going to use it?
  15. What story am I trying to tell?
  16. Do I need to change lenses?
  17. If so, which one?
  18. Am I shooting in Landscape or Portrait perspective, or even a jaunty angle?
  19. Do I need to use a Tripod?
  20. Will I use the Rule of Thirds or break it?
  21. What other rules should I be following?
  22. Are there Leading Lines I can use in the shot?
  23. What about finding an S-curve for the leading line?
  24. Is there any thing I can use to Frame my picture? e.g. Tree branches.
  25. Will I change this to B&W, Sepia or something else post production?
  26. Do I have a Focal Point?
  27. Is my subject Moving or Stationary?
  28. For Moving Subjects, do I want to Pan the shot, Blur the background or Blur the subject?
  29. Is there a Pattern I can pick up on?
  30. How’s the lighting?  Are the shadows strong or weak?
  31. Do I want to emphasize them?
  32. Is the light too strong?
  33. Will it wash out detail?
  34. Is my horizon straight?
  35. Can I get this at a better angle?
  36. Should I wait for better lighting?
  37. What does the light meter read?
  38. Should I increase shutter speed or open up the aperture?
  39. Is it in focus?
  40. Did I just miss a great shot?

With all the questions I’ve learned to ask myself over the last year, it’s a wonder that I still have my sanity, my passion for photography and the the willingness to learn it.  Life was so much simpler when all I did was point and shoot!  Certainly less stressful.

But, I look at the results of recent photos I’ve taken, practice every day and soak up as much info as I can from every photographer and photo site I come across. And you know what? It’s all worth it  in the end. I’ve decided that photography isn’t just a passionate hobby, but a journey I’m willingly taking.

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Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse

is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals.

He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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