Being insecure is good for the photographic process.  Usually when you are out and about – you take a picture, and then review it on the back of the camera.  You might then move about a bit, and take another. You might do this a few times, till what you see on the back of the camera accords with your own internal ideas.

You can’t do that when you shoot film of course. You don’t have the benefit of seeing the ‘result’ straight away, and so there’s that element of insecurity because you are not totally sure what you have got ‘in the can’.  You are also limited by the number of pictures you can take.  36 on a roll, or 24, or maybe as few as 8 or 10.

What do we do?  Digitallly, we take lots of images – but which ones do you like the best when you get home, and look at them all together?

I often find that the images I like the best are usually not the ones I thought I was taking at the outset – things move on, even as I shoot, and it might be the 10th image that I take that is the one that I use. The benefit of the digital camera is that you can check as you go – but is this always good for you?

Sometimes I wonder if by virtue of being able to look at the back of the camera all the time, I am just confirming that what I saw was good, or am I merely looking at a preview of my ultimate expectation.

It might be both – because looking at the back of the camera all the time can disrupt the shooting process – causing us to miss things….

When I was working as an agency photographer – most times I didn’t have the opportunity to look and check what was happening on the back of the camera – I just had to keep going, and trust that the settings were the right ones. I learned to adjust as I went, working on the principle that it had to be right first time, as there were no second opportunities.

That was the insecurity which was hanging over my shoulder all the time – it made me work harder, and faster.  If I checked at all, it was briefly.

The best lesson I learned was to reset my camera to a default, at the end of every single shoot.  So the camera sat at ISO 400, f5.6, RAW, and Aperture Priority.  That would get me most times an OK shot – it also meant that if I’d previously been shooting at ISO 12,000 – I wouldn’t be doing that the next day, when the sun came out again.  

It happens to us all, we make mistakes, but resetting the camera can mitigate things.

Why not try this – put some black tape over the screen – and go out and shoot – make yourself a little more insecure – and see what happens….

It’s only pixels……..

Author: Diane Seddon ARPS AFIAP CPAGB BPE3* - D Seddon Photography

I am a retired freelance photographer, based in Louth, Lincolnshire.

5 thoughts on “Insecurity”

  1. Interesting point and almost certainly one of the reason I rarely take my film based cameras out with me these days, which is a shame as that was why I fell in love with photography all those years ago. Might try and embrace those insecurities and see what happens. I suspect FujiFilm designed the screen set-up on the X-Pro3 deliberately so – enabling photographers to experience something similar to taking photos with film and not knowing what you’ve got until later on, granted you don’t have to wait a few days, but certainly reduces the temptation to “chimp” at the screen.


  2. Yes food for thought, with film you spent more time composing and a lot of time hoping you had got all the settings correct and anxious days waiting for the results to come back through the post. Think I will just turn the screen the other way and then change my mind and have a look. Thank you for your thoughts.


  3. When I used to use slide film I aimed to get six good pictures from a 36 frame roll of Fuji Velvia 50 film. Sometimes I didn’t get that many, I can’t remember ever exceeding that target. Very expensive.
    Now, with digital, we have the freedom to take as many pictures as we like, depending on card size. I’ve stopped “chimping”, I just fold my screen over and close it, so I don’t review everyhing. Later, I can go through what I’ve taken on my PC.
    Strangely though, I miss that plastic box falling through my letterbox & the anticipation of seeing my pictures for the first time!


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