Take the Shot: Creating Your Rough Draft

Writers write drafts. They belt out a rough version of what’s in their head, then polish those words until they shine. It’s the same thing with sketching. It’s okay to be rough because you’re going to be adding and subtracting lines until you’re happy with the result. No one cares about the draft once you’ve finished the work.

Photographers do the same. I think it goes double for people doing street photography. Every photo we take while out shooting is part of the rough draft. At the end of the day, you review the photos you took, keep the ones you like and delete the ones you don’t. The finished product is a collection of photos that you’re happy to call your keepers. No-one cares about the ones that didn’t make it.

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Are you drafting or editing? You can’t do both at the same time.

Like new writers, photographers can put way too much thought into their draft. People out shooting street photography might be constantly thinking about their inspiration and favorite shots. We focus too much on creating the finished product instead of what we’re doing then and there: taking photos. The more photos you take, the more options you’re giving your future self when it comes time to choosing your keepers.

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The whole trick to drafting is staying ahead of the little inner critic that’s always trying to get you to stop. This voice of doubt will always tell you to not bother raising your camera. Someone has already taken that photo. It’s a boring subject. Someone is watching you and they’re gonna think your lame for taking that photo. Doing street photography? That person is definitely going to punch you if you take their photo.

Put yourself in rough draft mode and silence that inner critic.

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When you’re out shooting, think of yourself as being in drafting mode. Only you will see the photos you take. The critic is irrelevant here. Later, when you’re reviewing the photos, you can invite the critic in to help you choose your keepers. But when you’re shooting, there is no real reason to not raise the camera and take the shot. Memory is cheap. Capture as many moments on the street as you can, then choose the best later.

 

Take every photo you feel the urge to take. Ignore any inner voice trying to reason with you. It’s often these photos that turn out to be the most interesting.

Instinct can lead to your best results. Or you can just hit delete.

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When drafting fiction, characters will often say or do things unexpected. This can lead to new plot ideas or insights into a character I hadn’t thought of. At worst, it leads to me deleting what I’d written. The same goes for blog writing. When drafting, I will sometimes go off on a tangent. While it’s no good for the article I’m actually writing, it will usually serve as the basis of a draft for a new article. If it turns out to be no good, I’ll delete it.

The same with taking photos. Whether it’s street photography or anything else: just take it. Take more. Take many. You might surprise yourself. Or you might just delete them. But don’t shoot and edit at the same time. Take the shot. Try different settings. Motor drive if you want to: set the camera to the highest FPS and take thirty frames of someone walking across your path. Then pick the best and delete the rest.

The only thing that matters is the end result.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know! Email me at anthony@anthonywkphotography.com, or talk to me on Facebook or Twitter.

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Colour in the streets.

We spend a lot of time worrying what people might think about who we are and what we do. If you want to create some kind of art, you get to worry about this on a whole new level. And then you start to lose sight of what is important to you, and why you started all this in the first place: to create things that you love.

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Sydney Streets 2

So this is already starting to have an effect. In the past, I’ve just kind of loaded up some photos that I thought were interesting and put them up on social media. Now I’m bearing in mind that I’m going to need to write a few words about them and why I chose them. I find that makes me put more thought into the photos I pick, and can cause a bit of stress. Then I realise I’m not very likely to actually give a serious description of the photo or the reasons behind it, and the stress goes away.

Continue reading “Sydney Streets 2”