September 4th, 2017 … One Shot per Shoot … Rekindled

Ya’all know I’m a normal guy. Seriously, my shrink tells me that, well not 3 or 4 times a week but maybe like once a month sometimes maybe. See, I got this issue with always taxing myself. Not like the IRS taxing but the kind that makes my brain hurted and then go on vacation …. but I’m used to this and it’s not normal or anything to think about. It’s just my way of keeping the inspiration going. Go on, laff… have a good chuckle. Yeah, yeah, old shooter is going off again. Youin’s be right. Ok, see we can all go out and shoot many photos in the course of an outing. I call these outings, shoots. Comes from my daze when I did some of this for money.

The thing is, without discipline, we don’t tax ourselves and maybe we even stifle ourselves. Not good and what’s worse, is that it happens and we don’t know it is or did happen. Here’s an observation. There’s a principle in photography called, The Inverse Square Law. This states that Less is More and More is Less. so if we apply this to making photos, we could see it as, making a lot of photos on a shoot,  probably gives less satisfaction or…. the shot that makes you breathe. Well, my brain couldn’t think this way, here’s why. If that’s the case that more is less, then less is more… wait, wait. So, I see it as, if I shoot less, maybe I get more satisfaction and possibly the shot that makes me breathe.

I started to think about this cause I wanted a conclusion I could not only live with, but to apply and  teach. Obviously going out and burning many exposures in hopes of a good frame is not a brilliant but very popular method of operation. Same token says, I could just shoot less and try for that shot that makes me breathe, ya know the shot that is more than anything you anticipated.

Hmmm I thought. If this Mr Inverse guy made this Square Law and we have to live by it, maybe there’s something I need to uncover. See, here it is. If your out there burning many exposures and hoping to catch the magic frame, there’s a good chance your INTENT is confused. On the other hand, if your out there looking for just one shot per shoot, well…seems to reason your INTENT is more focused. What happens with the later method is….you develop a sense of timing, framing, selection, and being in the here and now without confusing yourself. You get to feel, think, see, breathe your frame. I’m not saying to go out and just make one exposure. I have done that for years with my 8 X10 Deardorff. I am saying that by slowing down and being alert and tuned into everything, you get a ZEN sense of the moment. Instead of going out and machine gunning with you camera  hoping to catch something, you go and just try to catch just one. If you know you got it, go back and process it and start over next cycle. Do not succumb to the fascination of making many exposures.

Remember, all the gear and stuff you acquire and use is for one single purpose….to make a photo that when you view it….makes you feel that you made a part of the portrait of you and your life. So, maybe just focus on a single frame for each shoot. This will allow your eye, heart and mind to work together with your camera and help you on your journey.

Be blessed my friends and even in this time of mass fear thru the world, stay focused on yourself and your loved ones.

seeya soon………shooter out…………………………………………..


23 thoughts on “September 4th, 2017 … One Shot per Shoot … Rekindled”

  1. Spot on article Don, I have been shooting for a few years as a lone wolf, but strangely in the past 5 months shot with a few lets say interesting individual’s who apply the trigger happy method without lifting the camera once to the eye;
    not saying its a must especially with modern digital cameras but being trained in cinematography we have always been taught to creat the mise en scene within the viewfinder and this would in my mind apply to photography to create your one shot rule would most definitely give you better results.

    1. Zahyr, Today it’s called hip shots among other things.
      I know many hip shooters that get criticized because it not the traditional method of working. Well, perhaps that’s because they rely on chance. Well, everyone relies on chance one way or another. Maybe that’s what makes it so delicious to mak photos. Work and maybe the chance of a moment will present itself.

  2. Do you really mean one shot, or are you saying be more selective, e.g., be happy if you find 20 potential shots instead of machine-gunning 200. I really never know what I have until I put the images up on a computer screen, and quite often I discover something in a particular shot that makes it stand out–something I didn’t see when I hit the shutter button–or something that post-production tweaking brings out. I’d rather cull through 20 shots and find maybe one keeper (or none) than discover in LR that my single zen shot doesn’t hack it.

    As usual, your posts provide food for thought.


    1. Well I think you have the idea firmly planted. One shot per shoot means to focus on the here and now and be open to the image. Of course you may shoot your 20 but your looking for one. Much better then going out and dooing 200 frames and then not excited about many or even any. That creates negative energy. Lets leave negative energy to the politicians, they do t much better than we do.

  3. Hi Don,

    Just maybe that “… single frame…” you refer to above, is, as I see, a photographer’s ‘frame of reference’ that is not to be confused with, and to quote you, Don “… to go out and just make one exposure …” that is based upon, under the prevailing circumstances “… the gear and stuff you acquire and use is for one single purpose …”

    In sum, a photographer’s ‘frame of reference’ is the sum of their intent, linked to a photographer’s personal attributes that are developed, over time, from context specific and general experiences, knowledge, and skills – that evolve and grow to become “… part of the portrait of you and your life …”.


    1. The one single frame is a metaphor for being in the here and now. Many or most go out and work and have an agenda. This creates preconceptions and then the shooter is not free at all. There are many things to seek and then to make exposures of. My idea of a shot per shoot is not one frame but one Great Frame. It’s a more clear focused path to the image. Instead of thinking,….I am working on these projects and need to fill in the blanks……

      So thinking about one shot per shoot allows the freedom to explore outside the box and see it as a frame.

  4. Loe the second shot a lot, Don.
    As to ‘one shot’, it’s probably easier for those of us that were raised with film cameras and thought that coming back from a one-month trip with ten rolls was a lot…

    PS maybe it’s just my Mac, but ever since you moved to this new website layout I have trouble scrolling your post pages, they are ‘stuck’ at the top of the post. Must first go to full-screen mode if I want to read your full wisdom…

    1. Gio,
      Very good observation about the film days. Your right of course. Check with Olivier about the page thing. he’s the plumber and knows how to do things. I only know how to call him….

  5. Hey Don, I love your blog posts. I love to hear how different people operate and think, and as I’m sure you’re always down with the fact that there is no right or wrong if you’re getting the results, but as you say, with intent, otherwise they’re not really results I think we both feel. The with intent bit is the most important part I take from this. As you know I’m from those ‘ole B&W days’ (I never did go for the colour darkroom 😉 ), so I’m used to restricted and careful use of film and choosing my shots very carefully, but I can’t help but think I missed something then that we have now, and that is to push the boundaries of experimentation and thus knowledge in that we can think ‘f*ck it I’ll give it a go’ and getting shots that shouldn’t really work, and I probably wouldn’t have had a go if only up to 3 or 4 frames left on the roll. Goodness knows, I pushed the boundaries with film, but anything over 1600 push processing was, well dubious at best. Now, good lord we can shoot effectively at 6400 and above. That’s only a small aspect and only so much use can be had from it, but for me, I love to shoot in available light at night in the city streets etc, where the light can be erratic, and where I often have to grab the moment, I can try my ‘luck’. We all know we make our own luck though of course, but it’s fast tracked learning too, as we get to recognise a potential shot that we wouldn’t have dreamt was possible in the past.
    My main thoughts that come to mind when reading what seems like very sensible blog piece, especially for the continuous frame shooters, and those that point and shoot at people often enough that something half decent is probably going to come out in one of them brigade, as being trigger happy is really not a good thing, with the exception of very high speed continuous frame shooting for some sport or wildlife applications, but certainly not for Street. At the same time though, I think to myself, how on earth can anyone have a single method of working that works well for them as a rule of thumb.
    You see, I’m thinking from personal experience, and only a personal viewpoint I have to offer. I find that the number of frames I shoot in an outing varies massively for two main different reasons. One is lighting and environment, the second is my inner creativity meter. With those two variables I can’t say there is an ideal way of looking at it. When the light is gorgeous and works well in the environment, the possibilities raise enormously and if I can I’m going to maximise my opportunity to get good shots if at all possible, often to the point of getting back home hours later than anticipated. This is mirrored by the opposite conditions where it’s much more difficult to see so many opportunities, you know, when they’re just not jumping out at you and you have to look harder for a grab. I enjoy both those variable and all inbetween these extremes, but it sure can make a huge difference to the number of frames taken, and the number of good ones. Both do need strong focus and intent though.
    My creativity meter though, that’s another factor entirely. I can alway, or pretty much always get myself in a creative frame of mind, well as long as troubles in life don’t override it of course, but I have times when my creative mind is just jumping and sizzling and I’m just on form and will just see more and make more somehow from pretty much nothing and come back with a higher frame count and correspondingly high number of ‘good’ rating photos.
    Now I’m not really sure if that’s because I don’t have that much structure in my life and/or that I’m prone to varying levels mania, but I like these fluctuations, they really suit my personality, and the thought of going about it in the way you’re putting across here would give me the fear, as it would force me to fight my own personal fluctuations.
    I’m sure you can understand this, and that I’m not responding defensively. I’m merely pointing out that different characters will work differently to achieve their best results, there is no ‘one trick’ so to speak.
    However, I do think your idea is a great educational method for anyone getting into this genre and for those that get lost with their way (which can after all happen to us all at some point), and as a good regular exercise for anyone. Going out for a week of shooting in this way could be a good thing for me from time to time, but I think I’d probably have broken it by midweek if not before. Haha.
    Thought provoking piece, thank you Don.

    1. Well, it seems we are on the same page in a way. Many have mentioned to me thru the years that I do digital as if I were doing film.Perhaps that’s more true than I wish to believe. You give me an idea for w new post…. stay tuned and thanks……..

      1. Yes. I was thinking the same, same page, but slightly different wording is all. I like that I’ve given you one of you continual blog ideas Don 😉 . I also meant to say, I really do dig the second photo in this blog, a proper cracker it is!! ………

        1. Thanks Brother, much appreciated.

          ps…if you’d like to write an article for the Magazine, I’d love it…let me know

          1. Thanks for asking Don, I’ll see what I can do regarding that. I seem to have plenty to say in response to all sorts of things that interest me, but then I think to myself “right, what shall I right about?”
            I’m sure I can manage something if you’re not in a desperate hurry for it. I still have some catching up to do from my Summer’s lack of structure. However, it won’t be long til I’m back on top of things, or at least scrambling about near the top of things again. 😉

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