‘On overshooting’ talks about the fact that a lot of photographers shoot a lot more pictures than they’d really need to. Which (back then) made it really expensive, as people were shooting film, and also leads to feeling overwhelmed when having to edit down pictures. Not to mention the time it takes to go through all those photos.
Now, I’ve actually been meaning to write a blog post on this a while ago, and this chapter just reminded me.
I’m that person who overshoots. I’ve always done it. In the beginning of my photography days it made sense, since I wasn’t so confident yet. I didn’t know whether a picture was going to turn out alright or not. So I just wanted to make sure I got at least one good picture. And this attitude and ‘need for security’ stayed with me until today. I’m trying to shoot less images now, especially because it does take up sooo much time having to edit down a big set of pictures, but I still see the advantage of taking a lot of pictures of one subject.
So, if you’re wondering what my advice would be for you: If you’re just starting out, or aren’t feeling very confident in photography yet, I’d suggest to shoot as many images as you feel comfortable with. Don’t worry about overshooting so much for now. It should help you to get more good pictures out of your shoot.
On the other hand, if you want to practice taking less photos, and instead really train your eye (and intuition) to ‘see’ what would make a good photo, try shooting film for a while.
Firstly, you’ll be more aware of what pictures you take, as film can become expensive over time. Secondly, you don’t want to waste exposures, so you’ll start to really think about what you’re taking a photo of, the composition, your settings, etc. You just want everything to be right.
I think even if we don’t shoot film all the time, we should try and at least imagine what we would do differently if our digital camera was an analogue one. Be more mindful of what we shoot and how we shoot it.
Howard Chapnick has some very interesting last thoughts on this: “I have a theory. I can’t prove it, but I think that pictures get better when the photographer shoots less and thinks more. The trigger finger should release the shutter only when the chances for success are the greatest - when the light, composition, and the spontaneity of the moment approach perfection.”