Photo Tip: Shoot Many, Show Few

Great blue heron nesting behavior. Nature photography by Mike MacDonald.

The male great blue heron returns to the nest and kisses his mate.
Sometimes just one picture tells the whole story.

Photographs represent the real world and, as you know, it’s chaos out there. So, take lots of pictures and understand that it’s not just you screwing up your photos. It’s your kid closing her eyes, it’s that blue garbage can in the background, it’s the bird with the branch in front of it, there millions of things that can go wrong.

From all those pictures you took at the soccer game, on vacation, or while visiting the new baby, select just a handful of images to present. Remember this: “It’s not about you. It’s not about showing off. It’s all about your audience.” Trust me, I’ve been a professional comedian and public speaker for over 26 years.

Each picture should present a different perspective and move the story forward. No duplicates! If you’re a grandparent, realize that, aside from family, your new grandkid is just a boring little troll. So, don’t bore people with the same baby expression over and over again. Capture different interactions under different settings. Mix it up, but keep it tight. Approach it like you’re doing a short magazine article or photo essay on the topic. Unfortunately, most people show too many pictures, conjuring daydreams of Abu Ghraib from office mates and friends. Instead, make people’s eyes tear up by presenting them with three or four of your best baby photos.

In photography, less is always more. Keep things short and simple. Your presentations will be more powerful and your photography will be more fun and less grueling. Instead of having to digitally edit hundreds of pictures, you only may need to work on six. You can concentrate on having fun and being creative, knowing that you only need to nail a handful of shots to be successful.

Bottom line: Take a lot of pictures, pick a small percentage of them, and show people the great photographer you are!

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