“Developing a ‘Shot List'” (November 2008 Show-Me Nature Photography Newsletter)

Most of us, at one time or another, have traveled away on vacation or some interesting place and shot some travel photographs, only to return home and realize that there was one important shot that you forget to get. Believe me, it happens all the time. How do you prevent this? One trick I use for every photo outing, is to prepare a “shot list” before I travel. This list contains all the important shots I would like to get while traveling. This list can contain a list of places to shoot (i.e., the local park, the city market area, the local aquarium, etc.), or can be a list of different “poses” or compositions (i.e., shoot the market from the waterfront, shoot the market from the hill overlooking the market, shoot both horizontal and vertical shots, etc.). You can set up your “shot list” anyway that helps you remember the shots you really want to get while on your trip. I always make up my “shot list” in a small, bound composition book that I keep in my shirt pocket or camera bag. That way, it is always nearby so I can consult it while shooting.

An good example of one of my “shot lists” was the shot list I developed on the plane during my recent trip to Haines, Alaska, where I spent a week shooting bald eagles at the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. Here is what my “shot list” looked like: (1) Haines city images, (2) Inside Passage scenery (during ferry ride), (3) eagles on snowy stumps, logs, trees, (4) eagle closeup portraits (in stately poses), (5) eagle “talon fights”, (6) massive groups of eagles (in trees, on logs, standing in snow, etc.), (7) a “3 generation” shot (3 eagles in one photo: one an adult, one a sub-adult, and one an immature). These shots, as identified, may not mean much to you, but I knew exactly what I was looking for. Each evening, I would go over my list and note which shots I had attained, marking it off my “to do” list. I would then make note of those that I had not yet shot and would make them my priority for the next shooting day. It ended up I got every shot on this trip that was on my “shot list”, except for the “3 generation” shot. I missed this shot, not because I forgot to get it, but because the eagles just would not sit together in this formation. Oh well, now I have an excuse to go back again!

On your next outing, give the “shot list” a try. I think you will find it very handy in identifying the shots you want and will help you to avoid failing to get that all important shot. I also think that this up-front brainstorming can help you be more creative with your photography … you will often think of new and exciting shots that you otherwise probably would not have imagined. So give it a go and see how this can help you.

If you have any questions regarding preparing or using “shot lists”, or would like to comment on your experiences, please contact me at: showmenaturepix@hotmail.com

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