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  • Writer's pictureJoe

it's not a mistake

I have a very simple rule when shooting: review periodically and delete seldom. I have another rule, and that’s to have Keb Mo playing in the background, but that’s just for me.

Reviewing, even periodically is unavoidable. When I’m shooting I obviously never make mistakes, but some mortals might. We need to review our shots anytime circumstances may have changed to make sure we are recording faithfully. But do so periodically. People who are reviewing are not shooting. That’s a fact of life and you can always review later. Just have a big memory card and shoot fast and shoot often.

So when I’m doing a portrait session I make sure I’m getting the shot and then I review only when there’s a natural break in the flow or we’re changing locations or my client is changing clothes. If it’s an event I wait for natural lulls in the activity.

Then there’s deleting. Why are you deleting images while on the shoot? Stop that. First, you are taking time away from the shoot. Second, you are not reviewing the images on a screen that shows you full detail. Third, what if the images aren’t mistakes? What if they're art?

Here’s a mistake I made while doing a portrait shoot.

See that? It’s dark because my main light, group A, didn’t fire. In the frame immediately before this the background light was dimmer than in other shots. Why was my subject looking to the side? She’s looking at my background light to see if it’s firing. It did. But the main light didn’t. It hadn't recycled as quickly as the others.

So I have a picture of a subject looking at a light we can’t see while another light doesn’t fire. That wasn’t my intention. This was my intention:

But you know what? I like both shots. The dark one has a cool mystique to it, it’s interesting to look at, it’s different from the other photos I took. So I’m keeping it. And after I post this I’m going to tell everyone that I did it on purpose (it’s our little secret, okay?)

Want another example? Here's a self-portrait I use a lot of the time.

I was just doing a lighting ratio test and fired the camera to see if the lights were set up properly. I liked it so much I decided to use it as my profile.

Or maybe it worked out so well because Keb Mo was playing.

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