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6 Questions to Answer Before Pressing the Shutter…


Before you push that shutter button, answer these 6 questions:

Who? What? Why? When? Where? How?

These are the questions that should be posed by any journalist writing a story or any photographer taking a picture.

WHO is the client? Whether you are taking the picture as a hobbyist or as a professional photographer on assignment, there is always a client for your picture. It might be yourself. It might be your grandfather who fought in the Korean War. It might be the manager of an apartment building or a restaurant. It might be a postcard or calendar publisher. Who are you working for?

a woman holding a camera

WHAT Is the subject of your picture? For example, if it is your grandfather who fought in the Korean war, the subject could be a statue of the Korean war Memorial in Washington because your 97-year old grandfather in Kansas is too old to be able to come to see the statue himself. Or it might be a bird in flight.

If it is a restaurant owner, it might be the separate dining area reserved for special events, or the restaurant interior, or the specialty food dishes served by the restaurant, or all of the above.

WHY are you taking the picture? For what purpose will the picture be used? Is it a personal souvenir, or is it to be used for marketing purposes, or for fundraising?

WHERE do you need to go to take the picture? What is the best location to tell the story you want to tell? Where do you actually stand, lie, sit, or kneel to take the best picture that lets you get in low and tight and close?

Lafayette Park Photographers, Washington, DC

WHEN do you go to that location to take the picture? At what time of day and in what position of the sun? Early morning? Late afternoon, Golden hour? Blue hour? What time is most convenient for your client and yourself?

Lastly, and perhaps most important: HOW are you going to take this picture? What camera settings are appropriate for this particular image? What lens or focal length do you need to use? Do you wish to blur the background? Sharpen the background? Stop the fast- moving action? Blur the fast -moving action? Turn waterfalls into silky streams or rolling surf into clouds on the beach? Make moving action totally disappear? What ISO setting should you use based on the light available to you? What white balance is correct to give proper color filtration for the picture?

a lion playing with a camera

Finally, if the picture you have just taken does not meet the above criteria you have set, do it over until you get it right!

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