I dare you not to chimp

Here is a challenge for you: Next time you go on a photo walk, cover up the screen of your DSLR and don’t use it to inspect any of your shots during the walk until it is time to upload them into Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.

Crazy? Stupid? Pointless? You tell me afterwards.

Well, the following is of course completely based on my own experience and might not translate into your experience, but I think it does contain a more generic truth about the state of photography today. Stay with me:
I assume that you are familiar with the principles of exposure and composition, heard about the ‘decisive moment’, and are very familiar with your camera. My theory is that the impulse to inspect each shot almost immediately after having taken it, the so called “chimping,” is preventing you from taking that great shot. It invites you to forget about the theory of photography and invites you to take the same shot over and over again without the instant feedback really telling you how to improve the shot or, worse, with the instant feedback suggesting that this is the best shot possible and by doing so encouraging mediocrity. I tell you, nothing has really changed in photography with the Digital revolution, the principles of exposure and composition still stand. I invite you to take your time to set up the shot, think it over and think it over again before releasing that shutter. There is no point in taking the same shot over and over again while changing a few parameters when you don’t really know what you are changing and how it will affect your shot. Shoot fewer photos and as a result better photos; you don’t want to be caught out chimping when the decisive moment arrives!

I’m looking forward hearing your thoughts about this.

3 thoughts on “I dare you not to chimp”

  1. A comment made on Twitter recommends to take it one step further and limit the number of exposure you take on the walk. Why not limit yourself to 36 exposures?

  2. Most of the time I don’t chimp. If it’s street photography I won’t at all. If it’s something specific I might. The other day I was shooting a series of images for a montage I was planning to create and needed to check if the shutter speed was fast enough to ensure none of the shots had any shake in them. I figure that’s a legitimate reason to chimp 🙂
    Otherwise I prefer to wait till I pull the shots off the camera or a few days after I’ve shot them to look at the back.

  3. Leica just released an LCD-less DSLR, the LEICA M-D:

    “By deliberately omitting technical features such as Live View or video capture, the Leica M-D takes photography back to its purest level – allowing photographers to concentrate solely on the subject before them. Without the temptation to view the captured image immediately after exposure or share it with the person or subjects featured in the picture. The Leica M-D directs attention entirely on the composition. It consistently shifts the focus to the creative aspects of each subject – less technology for more creativity.”


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