As photography addicts, we all know what it’s like to get on a shooting high.  Going out day after day challenge after challenge left in our wake.  It can be a great feeling, but what happens between exciting photo shoots?  I can tell you there are 3 great ways to keep improving yourself, but most important help you with your business or just maintain your gear.

I have been shooting for years and my work moves in cycles.  Some months you can’t keep a camera out of my hands.  Other months I have to do a few different things to keep sharp and fresh.  Most Pro’s that I know do one or all of these things when the feeling “tries” to creep in.

  • Find a new location and go shoot just ONE SHOT
  • Come up with a better faster way of naming and organizing all of your digital and Paper Media
  • Clean you’re all of your gear

This, I know seems like a no brainer, I myself for example clean my gear after every job.  Some people already have a very neat organized and well protected file process.  There is more to this than just brushing off a little dust and batch renaming some files.  This is a process that gets your hands on your tools and work.  When doing these things you will find yourself thinking about your last shoot, dreaming about scenarios where thing could have been better or worse.   Looking at your image files you may find that you are a heavy shooter and need to tighten up your trigger finger.  Maybe your mid day images always seem to lack detail and contrast compared to the night and early morning.

This is that all important time where you want to work on these things.  There is no money on the table for a job but you, being you’re most honest and harshest critic will find ways of improvement.  I have found that the tasks listed above are the easiest way to do that not to mention a great way of multitasking.  In this article I will address the first one.  I try and keep in mind that it is harder than it seems.


This is harder than it sounds at first blush.  You can’t scout a location you just go and drive to a location or get one from a friend.  You need to not know what to expect, that is the most important thing.  Once you get there I would suggest that you take at least 5 min to take in the area and start thinking about Subject/Light/Perspective.  I would then get the camera out and set up the tripod or just make the appropriate settings for hand held.  This works best if you set the camera to Manual Exposure mode.  Once you have your focal length, ISO, shutter, and aperture you have but to frame the shot as you want it.  Now comes the easy part… fire the shutter.  Now the hard parts… load your gear back up and go home without looking at the image on the back of the camera.

I did this and failed my first time.  I cheated, I went to a familiar location and then I went back the same night.  I went to a beach location that I hadn’t shot in about a year.  I made one frame packed up and left but cheated at the stop light up the hill.  I saw this…

(Midnight) 6400 ISO-3 seconds- f/3.5

(Hand Held)

Photography By: Douglas Lee Coon

The point was to go out and get shooting again after a month long hiatus.  The funky “I don’t wanna…” feeling left me beore i made it through my first light.  I went back for 3 hours and proceeded to create a long series of timelapse images.  I just want you to have fun. 

The anticipation will kill you; the horrible thoughts will creep in.  “How much gas did I just waste…” or “…What if nothing came out…?” These are all good things to get you thinking about.  You need to see the value in each frame that you make and seeing the image for the first time on the computer will be a wakeup call for some that their shooting isn’t where they want it to be.

There are images all around you, I made the next 2 images very simply.  I was upset that I had gone a week without shooting anything that was just for myself and not work.  I decided that I would make 2 frames around my house and they would have to be hand held.  You see I have determined that I have become to reliant on my tripod and want to get used to using crazy high ISO hand held with no flash at night.  I want to be able to do some editorial work.  So I shot one indoors of my shelf and shat the second down my back alley where I live.

Photography By: Douglas Lee Coon

Photography By: Douglas Lee Coon

This will make you want to go back out and make improvements or maybe experiment on a few different things.  Feel free to fully edit what you have, try and make the image work.  It is important that you see that incorrect exposure or lack of a tripod can make or break one of your images. Be different from yourself here shooting at night or with lights and soon you will find that you have shaken off your funk!  Feel free to contact me I would love to see what some of you come up with!


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