Photography Forum – Limiting Your Shots

I am a voracious reader.

It’s amazing how some things I read go in my eyeballs and immediately fly right back out of my head. But other things find a crevice somewhere in my brain and stick like a thorn.

Since purchasing my Canon Powershot SX50HS, I have been reading books, forums, reviews, you name it. I even subscribed to a weekly e-mail newsletter sent out by Digital Photography School. These newsletters are very interesting. There is a weekly photo challenge and many articles with helpful hints and tricks. And of course there are always plenty of stunning photographs.

Now, I am going to take a moment and digress from the main subject of this post to make an observation. I’m beginning to think that there are a small number of professional photographers who aren’t all that happy that advances in digital cameras and technology mean that schleps like me can take pretty decent photos with basically no training and without investing huge sums of money in equipment. Sometimes there is just a “tone” to some of the things that I read, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, several weeks ago I read an article about Limiting the Number of Shots you take with your digital camera. The premise was that in the old days of film, photographers couldn’t just shoot willy-nilly. Each frame shot cost money in both film and development so a photographer had to be much more judicious in the shots they took. They had to spend more time making sure they got the photo right the first time. So, the article suggested learning to become a better photographer by not taking advantage of your ability to shoot multiple frames of a single subject and just “hope for the best”. Instead, it suggested limiting yourself to a certain number of shots, composing those shots more thoughtfully, applying the basic rules of composition more thoroughly. (I’m totally paraphrasing and adding my own slant to what I read.)

This article has really stuck in my brain for some reason and I’ve spent a lot of time mulling it over. As a former journalist, one thing I’ve always been really good at is seeing two sides of a story. (Sometimes this ability makes it hard to take a firm stand on things.)

On one hand, I do see the potential benefits of limiting the number of shots you take. I can see how this could lead to improved skills.

On the other hand, one of the benefits of today’s digital photography is being able to learn from your mistakes without it costing a lot of time or money. Should a novice photographer ignore the technology at his/her fingertips in order to hone their skills the “old fashioned way”?

For me personally, I don’t feel I go overboard with the number of shots I take. Sometimes, when shooting a bird, I’m limited in the number I can take simply because the subject flies away. Sure, when I was shooting the wrens before and during their time of fledging, maybe I went a little overboard. I probably took 80 shots in three different sittings for a total of around 250. I was zooming in, zooming out, experimenting with changing the white balance, etc. Many of those shots got deleted. But that practice isn’t typical for me. On my recent walk in the park, sometimes I only took one shot and then moved on.

What is your opinion? Do you purposefully limit the number of shots you take? Would you suggest this practice to someone who wants to become a better photographer? Or do you believe photographers, especially beginners, should take advantage of digital technology and shoot away at a subject, learning from their mistakes?

Share your opinion in the comment section below. I look forward to reading what everyone has to say! Have a blessed day! šŸ™‚

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8 Responses to Photography Forum – Limiting Your Shots

  1. Bob Zeller says:

    I think it is inane to state that one should limit one’s shots. Heck, when I am photographing a bird for example, I end up shooting many. Why? That bird is not stationary. One shot taken a few seconds after another may be absolutely different. The bird may take a different pose. A moving cloud can change the lighting in an instant. I say, shoot as many as you want, definitely more than one, and not worry about what anyone else believes. It is the end result that counts.

    As for the first part of your post about the photographer who thinks that people with point-and-shoots, or bridge cameras like yours, (or phones), shouldn’t claim to be photographers. Again, I say it doesn’t matter. Sure, I spent a lot of money myself getting myself educated about photography, but these days, technology makes it easier to get the job done. Why not take advantage of it. Yes, it is a good idea to get a handle on understanding exposure, but that can be obtained by researching the web. No need to spend hundred of dollars to get that info when it is at your hand. I wish this was all available to me when I started out.

    By the way, Amy, I hear that your SX50 camera is an amazing piece of equipment. I am happy to be helping you along on your journey.


    • And I appreciate all your help, Bob, so THANK YOU!! You are one of the best! šŸ™‚

      I agree with you, I think a person should shoot as many photos as they want to/need to for the situation they are trying to capture. Some situations, you can’t shoot a bunch, others you can take your time and try different things to achieve the desired effect. The current digital technology is awesome and I think we should take advantage of it.


  2. tootlepedal says:

    Take as many as you like. The trick, which I haven’t yet mastered, is to restrain yourself when showing them to others.


  3. avian101 says:

    I think that you should use logic and your own criteria when using a camera. All depends on what you shoot, landscapes, flowers, birds, people, still life, etc. each of those situations have to be treated in different way. You wouldn’t do rapid shooting on a landscape would you? Or capture a bird that moves extraordinarily fast with slow speed. Little by little you’ll find what is suitable for what you are planning to shoot. The photographer instinct will kick in, you’ll see! šŸ™‚


    • Thank you, H.J.! You are right! Every one of us has our instincts and we have to follow what we enjoy and what we see is best for the situation at the time. I don’t believe there is a “one-size-fits-all” philosophy in photography. I enjoyed your input in this discussion! šŸ™‚


  4. You’re right, there are some professional photographers that hate the fact that the price of technology has come down to the point where almost every one can afford good photo equipment.

    And, you gotten some great responses here already, but I’ll throw my two cents in any way. šŸ˜‰

    Before you can put more thought into a shot and get it perfect the first time, you have to learn what it takes to get the perfect shot, and the only way to do that is to shoot a lot of photos and learn from your mistakes. When I was starting out in the days of film the pros always said that the beginners didn’t take enough photos to learn the craft.

    Overall, I would say that I am shooting fewer photos. However, I shoot more photos of any one subject as I change more settings all the time now.


    • You know your two cents is always worth at least a nickel to me, Jerry. šŸ˜‰

      I agree with you and had thoughts similar to yours. As a beginner in this new hobby of photography, I feel that limiting my shots now would not really help me because I’m still learning what I’m doing. Once I get better and more knowledgeable, then I’ll be better able to “shoot on the fly” and get it right the first time.

      As H.J. keeps reminding me – practice makes perfect! So, I feel beginners should go ahead and practice to their heart’s content. After all, as you’ve said so many times, the mistakes don’t cost anything.


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