With World Photography Day today, I’d like to give folks a fun challenge. Lots of you will be happy to pull the viewfinder to your eyes or peer into the LCD screen to take photos. For some of us, we’re in love with capturing landscapes. Others find portrait photography to be our passion. This challenge will help you figure out how to think just a bit more about creating the images. And if anything, you’ll probably come back really elated at the photos you make.
So here’s the challenge: are you ready?
Take photos from the hip. More specifically, don’t even look through the viewfinder or the LCD screen. Just position the camera at your hip and go about shooting photos. Hopefully, the lessons you learn while doing this will last way beyond World Photography Day.
Here’s the idea: photographers of all sorts end up spending so much time disconnecting from the scene in front of them. The viewfinder is a tool that separates you from the scene so you can be in your own mind. The LCD screen is something that we, by default, tend to zero in on. This puts us in a state of mind where we do nothing else but stare at what the photo is going to be. If you have exposure preview on, then your mind is focusing on that even more. All these little things take away from the attention to the scene.
But if you just look at the scene, point your camera at it from the hip, and shoot without setting anything, then you’ll still be connected to the scene while taking a photo. For the best results, you might want to shoot in Program or aperture priority. If you’re challenging your Sunny 16 metering methods, then shoot in manual mode and look at the settings if your camera lets you do it.
Shooting from the hip does a few other things:
- It gives you a brand new perspective.
- It teaches you to think of the world through the focal length you’re shooting with.
- It teaches you to take all the precautions to get the image you want faster if you don’t have a lot of time.
- You’re probably going to need to set your focus in a different way, so you’ll learn more about how your camera autofocuses.
- You’ll see later on how many photos you get that you actually really like.
This can be a fun thing to do because it adds to the uncertainty. You don’t know what you’re getting all the time. In addition to that, you’ll learn more about how to make adjustments based on a few observations such as understanding the lighting in the scene. For example, if you’re photographing in a place with a lot of shadows and shade, you might consider raising your ISO. That means that as soon as you walk into an area like that, you’ll program your mind to innately do it.
Some of my favorite photos have been shot from the hip. But they were shot that way because I understood how my camera was seeing based on the focal length. If you see the world in 50mm, then do this challenge with 50mm. Some folks see in 35mm and 28mm, so try those. Happy shooting, this World Photography Day and every day.