Playing Chess not Checkers when doing Photography?

May 26, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Y'all ! Hope you had a great week! This week I want to talk about something that I just figured out. I recently went on a trip with a couple of photo buddies to the low country near Savannah Georgia and Charleston South Carolina and I found out that I'm  a Checker player not a Chess player when it comes to Photography. I always thought I was a Chess player but no.  What do I mean when I say this? A Chess player is thinking many moves in advance and a Checker player is mostly reactive. My photo buddies Mike and Robert were showing up to different sites with shots already in mind. They knew when and where the sun would come up or go down. They knew in advance what the keeper shot was going to be. Me on the other hand I was just showing up and trying to get what I could get playing it loosely and what moved me at the moment. They were playing Chess and I was playing Checkers. Now there is nothing wrong with playing Checkers and I think that most of us are playing Checkers. Being reactive instead of proactive. Lets look at some of the advantages and disadvantages to both.

Playing Chess. Being proactive. These people have shots in mind well before arriving at the location. They have the composition, what lens they will use, the camera settings and most important the patients to wait until the moment is right before pulling the trigger or shutter. They do not take as many photo's as the Checker player but the quality ratio of the ones they do take is high. Being a portrait photographer, landscape photographer or shooting architecture are all very much in their wheel house. But being spontaneous like street photography not so much. These are the thinkers of the group and usually have lots of experience shooting many different situations. They know what they like and are not willing to sacrifice.

Playing Checkers. Being Reactive. These people are a make the most out of the situation. They show up and figure on the fly how to shoot the scene .  They take many more photo's than the Chess Players with a less quality ratio photo's although they do get their keeper shots in.  They are more spontaneous and quick to the draw taking photo's of almost anything .  Sometimes they miss a shot because they didn't think ahead but they get other shots because they are thinking out of the box. Which can be a good thing. They are shooting what the situation gives them and not a pre-concieved shot that they were wanting to get. Street photographers and Sports are in their wheelhouse. We all start as snap shooters or Checker players and then either grow into the Chess player or stay the Checker player.

Photo trips with friends is a good way to see how others think when they are shooting. It always astonishes me how me and another photographer can be only a few feet away and shooting at the same thing but the photographs are totally different. Their thought process may be totally different than yours but it might be better too. The difference between Chess and Checker players can be the difference between Photographers and Snap Shooters some would say. I guess I fall under the category of Snap shooter or Checker player. Where my photo buddies fall under the title of Photographer or Chess player. In the big wonderful world of Photography I think there is room for both. Which one are you? Thats all for this week until next week get out and shoot some!


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