Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Consider the Percentages

A while ago I told a friend of mine that I was averaging 7 good frames per every role of film I was shooting. He was surprised and said that was high. It didn't seem high to me.

Back when I was shooting with the intention of having editorial pieces published, I figured that if I didn't get 20 good "keepers" out of a roll of 36 frames I wasn't getting the job done.

I don't know what other photographers consider a good "take," but if I'm not walking away with at least 5 good frames per roll I'm doing something wrong.

I don't shoot the same way I did when I was trying to consistently get published. I rarely shoot transparencies and I seldom bracket and I have the time to let the story develop, if there is one.

I went on a shoot today. I had a very specific objective, to document a single scene for my Flag project. I knew I wouldn't need a lot of film to get what I wanted. I started shooting with an FM2 that had about 25 frames left on the roll. When I finished I knew I had what I wanted. I knew I had 5 good shots.

The whole time I was shooting I was thinking of another possible angle or point of view from which to approach the subject. Then I turned my back to the subject and saw a mirror across the room. I went to work on the reflection in the mirror. Then back at my original shooting position, I put my busted up 20mm lens on the FM2 and started over.

I got what I wanted because I was thinking the whole time, moving, considering every corner of the room. When I saw the shot I settled in, concentrating on making the image.

I used a couple other cameras to get a few close ups and some color images of the entire room. In all, I shot about 35 frames and I know I walked away with at least 8 good images. That's all I need. So, considering the percentages it was a good day's work.

Photo: ©2011 David W. Sumner

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