Can’t I Just Shoot Them?

The last thing most amateurs consider when making a video (or taking photos for that matter) is the planning. And if it does cross their mind, they might still miss the weight of its importance. Today I want to highlight this vital area of production.

The truth is that a good plan is important; and is perhaps one of the most difficult things to master. Most people just pick up a camera – whether it’s for video or for photography – and shoot happy snaps. In the book, Top Travel Photo Tips from Ten Pro Photographers, photographer Michael Doven notes that, “If you plan a photo session in advance, no matter where you travel, you’ll shoot images you’ll be proud of nearly every time.” Honestly, lots of energy should be spent on getting this right. Spud Hilton at the blog SFGate wrote that, “Digital cameras are a double-edged sword. Not so long ago, each time you released the shutter, it cost you at least 50 cents in film and processing. Now it costs next to nothing — and that’s exactly how much effort most people put into taking a photo.” This is true for videography as much as it is for photography, with stats showing 72 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute!

If you want your work to be seen, then let me encourage you to consider this: the first thing that really separates the amateurs from the pros is that amateurs will simply point and shoot, whereas the pros will plan and shoot. Sure, sometimes we won’t have time to prepare as the action begins unexpectedly and we just have to go for it.  As far as possible, though, we plan as we go. It can’t be stressed enough: planning is everything.

So how do we start planning? Well, we’ll look at that over the next couple of blog entries by exploring the two key components that every photographer and videographer ought to be well acquainted with: the “Shoot Plan” and the “Shot Plan.”

Oblivion Production Photo

(Production still – with final insert – from the film Oblivion. This single cliff-top scene took a 60-person crew to shoot. You can’t shoot with 60 people unless you have a plan!)

5 thoughts on “Can’t I Just Shoot Them?

  1. I beg to differ with you slightly. I am very much an amateur photographer and I do plan my photo shoots. Hell, sometimes I even research for them. Please remember that “amateur” means someone who is dedicated to the task and not seeking profit from it, so we come in all levels of skill.

    I would say that the difference between a casual photographer and a pro or dedicated amateur is in the planning.

    1. Thanks for the thought ‘idiot’ (though your comment certainly tells me your name is more self-effacing than a genuine descriptor)! To me, an amateur is one lacking the skill of a professional – so I think the disagreement is a simple case of semantics: your idea of a casual photographer seems to be similar to my idea of an amateur I think.

      1. I’ve met amateur photographers whose work was of much higher quality than many “professional” photographers out there.
        We need better language than pro/amateur. I’m no pro, but I am no rank beginner or casual point and shoot photographer. My point was more I felt you used the term I use for myself in a deprecating way. To be fair your goal is to help casual photographers become better and I appreciate that, it is what brought me to your blog in the first place. Every bit of wisdom helps, right?

        My screen moniker was initially a jab at the fact that I was a rank amateur, I love photography and am totally self taught at it. Now I use it more to reference the occasionally idiotic things I will occasionally do in order to get the picture I want.

  2. Planning is very important in everything you do, you gotta work your plan, and great view on the pic I love it! looking forward to reading more from you 🙂

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