Trigger Finger

One tip I give to still photographers who segway into video is “don’t shoot like a still photographer”. By that I mean don’t fall into the trap of turning off the camera too soon – let it run. Still photgraphers shoot moments in time – video shooters shoot time in motion.

I had a still photographic assignment a few years back to shoot a story on the LL Bean’s workshops. LL Bean gives skeet shooting lessons and fly fishing lessons etc. I set out to cover a group who would be learning the basic techniques of how to shoot skeet targets with a shotgun. I got to the location early and had some time to kill – no pun intended. The instructor asked me if I wanted to give it a try. Now I’m a person who had never even seen a gun up close, let alone shot one – so I declined. But after about 10 minutes of gentle coaxing, I said yes.

The instructor gave me safety tips on handling a firearm and then I was ready to try my hand at shooting the clay targets. He pulled – I aimed – and shot the target dead on. We both laughed and he said – beginners luck. He told me to give it another try. He pulled – I aimed and I shot it dead on again. After the third try with the same results – he looked at me and said that he thought I had been kidding him when I told him that I had never picked up a gun before. Then it occurred to me that I’ve been aiming and shooting “targets” my entire career as a still photographer. It had become a natural instinct.

So when I teach still photographers how NOT to shoot video like a still photographer, my biggest challenge is to help them overcome this learned instinct of shooting “moments”. It’s a tough instinct to break but stop yourself and let the camera roll on.


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