Why it's a Good Idea to Take Lots of Photos

Why it’s a Good Idea to Take Lots of Photos


Take lots of photos. Lots and lots of photos. Make mistakes. Lots of them. The more photos you take and the more mistakes you make, the better the photographer you will become.

I’m not encouraging you to blaze away with your camera like you’ve got a machine gun and are an actor in a B-grade action movie, you won’t improve your photography doing that. You need to carefully consider many aspects of what you are doing and make sure every frame you shoot is different than the previous one.

Why it's a Good Idea to Take Lots of Photos

Increase your odds

Whether you’re photographing your kid’s birthday party, a street protest, graduation portrait or studio product shot for your website, there’s always a multitude of variables. Taking minimal photos is going to reduce your chances of success.

Varying the composition, timing, and exposure for each picture you take will give you more options when you come to edit your photos and choose the best of them.

Vary the composition and move around

Even the slightest changes in composition can produce significantly different photos. So if you only take one or two frames without moving your camera you might be missing the best angle.

Why it's a Good Idea to Take Lots of Photos

Small variations in composition can make a significant difference.

Moving your position from side to side and up and down, even just slightly, or adjusting the focal length when you are shooting a static subject will provide you with a series of different images.

Then later, when you’re editing, you will have the benefit of multiple different photos to choose from.

Moving subjects

Why it's a Good Idea to Take Lots of Photos

Taking a series of photos when one or more elements in your composition are moving gives different results.

When photographing a moving subject it’s always best to take lots of photos. As the location of your subject changes the dynamic of the photo can be varied in many ways. The relationship of your subject to the background will alter, for better or for worse.

The distance between your subject and your camera may change, possibly resulting in an out of focus photo. When your subject is moving, their position within your frame will be different from moment to moment. So it makes good sense to take a series of images, rather than just one or two.

Timing the moments you choose to make an exposure has a major impact on the outcome of your photo, especially when you have more than one element in your composition that’s moving. If you limit the number of photos you make you will risk the missing the best opportunity.

Continuous shooting mode

Why it's a Good Idea to Take Lots of Photos

In many situations, holding the shutter release button down with your camera set to continuous shooting (burst) mode will not often give you the best results unless you carefully consider your actions.

If you are observant and know your subject, taking time to track the action and choosing the moments you make your exposures will give you better results. Use continuous shooting mode carefully when you need it, otherwise, you will be trying to choose your best photos later from a myriad of exposures with insignificant differences.

Exposure variations

Why it's a Good Idea to Take Lots of Photos

Experiment with exposure settings.

Experimenting with different exposure setting is another good way to produce an interesting variety of images of the same subject, especially if the contrast range in your composition is broad.

If you prefer making photos using one of your camera’s auto modes, make a few exposures like that, then switch to Manual mode. Make more photos, adjusting the exposure slightly for each one.

By taking exposure meter readings from different locations with your camera’s spot meter and adjusting your settings accordingly, it can give you a range of more diverse photos than you would have if you only use an automatic exposure mode.

It’s all in the details

Why it's a Good Idea to Take Lots of Photos

Recomposing slightly avoided the bright line connecting with the flower.

Paying attention to detail when you are photographing can make the biggest difference in achieving fabulous photos or just mediocre ones. Taking your time to carefully observe the elements within your frame as you line up your camera to take a photo is essential.

Watch for changes to the light that will affect your exposure. Watch for movement and make deliberate adjustments to your composition. These are all ways that will add depth and an extra dynamic to your photography. However, if you are simply not taking enough photos you are truly limiting your opportunities to be making your best photographs.

Oftentimes the first angle you think of and photograph will not be the best. And, if you only make one or two exposures, you will not get the best photograph. The second composition you choose may be smarter, but all the smart people will do the same. The third step you make with your camera angle, composition, timing, etc., will likely give you a more pleasing, unique result and even lead to more inspired choices for subsequent frames.

Why it's a Good Idea to Take Lots of Photos

Over to you

By taking your time, observing carefully, and considering the various options of how you can set your exposure and frame your subject – it will give you an opportunity to get a diverse range of photos.

Time your exposures so the action is at its peak and your composition works. Then making variations on your choices will return you considerably more options of good photos to choose from. If you just make one or two exposures without making any changes it’s highly possible you will be missing out on making the best photographs possible. So always take lots of photos.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Kevin Landwer-Johan is a professional photographer, photography teacher, and filmmaker with over 30 years experience. Kevin is offering DPS readers his FREE course for beginner photographers which will build your confidence in photography. You will learn how to make sense of camera settings and gain a better understanding of the importance of light in photography. Check out Kevin's Blog for articles with a more personal approach to photography.

  • steve26

    In the distant past (1966) I was trained as an Army cinematographer. On the first day of class, an old Master Sergeant addressed us saying, “The Army is going to spend a bunch of money training you and sending you to Vietnam. They are going to give you a bunch of expensive equipment. The cheapest thing they are going to give you is film. Use a lot of it!” Ever since that has been one of the most important thing I learned there.

  • Kevin Lj

    Shooting film I was always more reserved because of cost mainly, but also because of processing time.

  • Inez

    Google is paying 97$ per hour,with weekly payouts.You can also avail this.
    On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $11752 this last four weeks..with-out any doubt it’s the most-comfortable job I have ever done .. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
    ??;?? http://GoogleCashServicesCareerPartTimeJobs/get/hourly ????????????????????????????????????????????????????:::::!da150u

  • Science Man

    The socialist media bar that blocks/overlays the written text on this site is annoying. And there is no way to dismiss the overlaid thingy.

  • Bradley Ward

    Great article, Kevin. I totally agree, but I have a personal problem with this that I’d love to hear your comment on.

    I am a young 62 and I retired last year after 40 years of life on a keyboard as a software developer. I’m now a serious amateur photographer but my biggest weakness is that having to get back on the keyboard for hours to do the post processing of photos in Lightroom feels a lot more like work than fun. For example, I recently shot 700 photos in Yosemite National Park, including hand held high speed bursts using exposure bracketing that I hope will yield some nice exposure stacked results… if I can ever get myself to face that large backlog of 700 raw photos!

    I’d love to read an article from you on your suggestions for workflow techniques that allow us to maximize experimenting with shooting while at the same time minimizing time in the early triage phase of post processing.

  • James Kendricks

    I had a similar experience as steve26. I was Navy photographer and the Chief on my first ship (USS Belleau Wood LHA 3) told us: Whenever you go somewhere take lots of photos. The practice of using F/Stops (remember that term?), shutter speeds, time exposures and fill flash helped me to not just become a better photographer, but to enjoy photography. I learned to shoot, soup and print (among other things). Photography has changed over the years, but I suggest that one does not allow the technical aspects (such as post production) to become the focus as this will eventually take the fun out of photography as Bradley Ward mentions. Take time to photograph the beautiful (and not so beautiful) and become a recorder of history. Love Digital Photography School. Enjoy!

  • Kevin Lj

    Thank Bradley. I understand the hours in front of a keyboard can be hard work. I find it’s not uncommon for many photographers to struggle with image selection. Knowing which ones to keep and which ones to discard.

    When I first started in photography I worked at a newspaper. I had to learn to choose my best images quickly, under a looming deadline, get them printed and submitted. It wa never great having an editor tell you a particular photo didin’t cut it (for what ever reason they may have,) so I learned to pick out and print only my best.

    I actually have an online course produced on this topic where I share the workflow I have developed using techniques I learned way back in my newspaper days. It also includes adaptations I have continued to refine particularly now with digital. You can take a look at it here:


  • Kevin Lj

    Thanks James. I always maintain photograph has not really changed that much. If you can master the essentials, as my great grandfather who was a pioneering New Zealand photograph back in the late 1800’s and 1900’s, you can be a good photographer. On his old wooden 8X10 glass plate camera he had to adjust the aperture and shutter speed (no ISO flexibility) to get a good exposure. If we can do this well, focus well and not be distracted by all the technology, we too can make good photos.

Join Our Email Newsletter

Thanks for subscribing!

DPS offers a free weekly newsletter with: 
1. new photography tutorials and tips
2. latest photography assignments
3. photo competitions and prizes

Enter your email below to subscribe.
Get DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS feed