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  • Writer's pictureJimmyG Photo

Shoot with Intention

So I suppose I should start my first blog post with who I am, why I'm doing this etc. But I'm not going to.

Instead I'm going to talk about the first topic that I thought was blog worthy. I'll do the normal intro type stuff sometime later...eventually.


A trend I'm noticing from a lot of models and photographers on social media is posting the same shot in both color and black & white, then asking their audience which they prefer.


The frequency that I'm seeing this is almost turning into a (bad) trend. The poster does this not because they can't make up their mind which is better, but because they want all their fans to comment with answers. The more comments (engagement) they receive, the larger their reach, which then in turn increases their engagement, and the cycle continues.

Photographers - if you see a model post the color image you gave them in color and then they slap a black and white filter on it, are you ok with it? I wouldn't be. I shot that set with the intent of it being in color. They are altering my vision and final product. During the photoshoot is when I make the decision if a set is going to be color or black & white. If I'm going to shoot a set in black & white, I will make certain decisions on location to make the final result look better. After the shoot, knowing a certain set is intended to be black & white, I will edit them with that in mind, caring about certain aspects more, and other aspects less than if it were a color image.

The image above is a shot of Bree I took specifically with the intention of making it black & white. I'm showing you the color version of the image to demonstrate that when you see publicly see variations of the same image, especially right next to each other, the stand alone impact of the image is diluted. Either image (color or black & white) may be great by itself, but together, right next to each other, the image is less intentional, and less impactful. With everyone being flooded by images every day, if you want your images to stand out, it is now more important than ever to maximize your image's impact.


Being intentional with how you shoot, how you edit, and how you post increases the impact of your images, and in turn, your brand.


Intention is important in all aspects of a photoshoot. If your photoshoot doesn't have any intent, why are you doing it?

The intention of a photoshoot doesn't have to always be something big and grand like making a pulitzer prize winning image, or getting the next cover of Time magazine. It can be something simple like wanting to test out a new light you just bought, or helping a model with their posing. But if you default to just trying to make the best image you can with what's in front of you, and you forget the actual intent of the photoshoot, you just wasted everyone's time. If your intent is to test out a new light - don't forget to bring it! You should also use it in every shot, and adjust it several times throughout the shoot. Don't just find a configuration you like for what's currently in front of you and then forget about it. If you do, the next time you use it, if you're not dealing with the exact same setup, you may find yourself fumbling around trying to adjust it, possibly losing your cool and in turn the client's confidence in you. If your intention is to help a model learn about posing, show her the back of the camera in near real time. Shooting for 10 minutes straight and then scrolling through 150 shots doesn't really help her nearly as much as showing her more frequently so she can make adjustments while the pose is still fresh in her mind and it helps those good poses be reinforced into her muscle memory.

For each set I shoot, I determine the intent of that set before I begin shooting. The intent of the set affects how I'm going to shoot it. If the set is just because the model wants to just one or two good shots of the outfit for social media then I'm going to make sure that the outfit is being shown off, and I'm not going to keep shooting the same outfit for 20 minutes and wind up with 200 shots of the same outfit, just to pick 2 to move forward with. If we're shooting for a magazine cover feature, then I'm going to make sure to have a strong vertical shot a cover, at least one strong horizontal shots for a "centerfold" type shot, and several large variations in poses so there are lots of strong, individual images for the feature, rather than a bunch of small variations of the same pose.


Shooting with intention moves you from getting a couple good shots accidentally, to creating a solid, impactful set of images.


Looking back on my own experiences, this becomes even more clear. After shooting with models for a year or two, I wanted to get published. That was my goal. But I wasn't shooting intentionally to get published. I was shooting because I wanted to shoot with a certain model, and maybe I had an idea or theme in mind that I thought would be cool. Essentially I was shooting just to get some good images. After the shoot that I would try to force the results into any random magazine's requirements that might have the same theme as the shoot. Needless to say my success rate was not very high. Once I began shooting with the end in mind - with intention (and some improved photoshop skills), my success rate rose rapidly. Now I was picking a magazine to submit to prior to a shoot, and understanding what their submission requirements were before stepping on set. I had my mental checklist of what I needed to produce from a set before I began, so I could craft the shoot that way, rather than trying to force it to happen with the images I wound up with after the fact.

Being intentional in the world of photography doesn't just apply to photographers but all members of the shoot (Models, Make Up Artists, Hair Stylists, Stylists etc). Everyone should be asking, "What is the intent of this shoot, or set, and what does that imply for me in my role?"

How do you shoot with intention?



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