Don’t Look Now!

31.07.2017 |

Episode #4 of the course The best photography hacks by Tom Ang



Now that we know each other a little better, I’m going to offer a hack that may take you to the edge of your comfort zone.


The Best Thing to Happen to Photography

In the early days of digital photography, it wasn’t too clear what the advantages were. Then, cameras started to show previews on a tiny screen in the back. A revolution in photography was born! Immediately after shooting, we could see a preview of the shots.

As screens grew in size and quality, photographers became more and more dependent on them. Reviewing the shot became automatic and habitual. In fact, many beginners say it’s the thing they love best about digital photography.


A Trap

But hold it! The picture review feature of digital cameras is also a terrible trap. It makes you rely too much on chimping. CHIMP stands for “checking image preview” (and has nothing to do with the noises like “Oo oo! Ahh ahh!” that photographers often make when reviewing their photos 😉).


Why Is Chimping a Trap?

• It takes your eye off the ball. You make one or two snaps, take the camera away from your eye, look down . . . while all of life is going around you. I’ve watched photographers miss the shots they were after because the action took place while they were chimping.

• It breaks your rhythm and flow. You want to set up, take a shot or two, adjust focus, shoot a bit, adjust position, shoot again . . . You cannot get into a flow of shooting if you chimp.

• Because of the nature of the screen image, chimping gives unreliable feedback on sharpness, color, and exposure. Even composition checks aren’t safe.


Today’s Hack

Now you know what today’s hack is:


That’s it. Simple to say, simple to do.

I promise you that your photographic output will improve, that you’ll enjoy photography more. You’ll be more in the moment, more attuned to your subject. And you’ll shoot more carefully, which can only improve your image making.

But only if you stop chimping! I suggest that you:

• Break yourself in step by step. Go for one hour without chimping. Then a whole day. And so on.

• Turn automatic image preview to OFF. This will be in your camera Setup or Preferences menu option.

By all means, check image previews during breaks—when you’re having a coffee or on the ride back home. But don’t do it during the shoot.

You may say you want to be sure you got the exposure or composition right. Fair enough. But I suggest you try no chimping for a while, and I’ll bet your sense of what you shot will improve . . . dramatically.


Sources of Inspiration

What happens when monkeys grab your camera? They sure don’t chimp! Check Sulawesi Macaques’s “chimping” just for fun. David Slater’s story is not just about the monkeys but also what rights they have over images of themselves.

Tomorrow, we will look at the best ways to use zoom lenses.

May the light be with you!



Recommended book

Photograph Like a Thief: Using Imitation and Inspiration to Create Great Images by Glyn Dewis


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