My "want-to-shoot-list"

By Martin Joergensen | August 21, 2008 10:39 PM | Permalink | Comments ( 4)

A blog reader and podcast listener - Chris from the UK - wrote me an email pointing my attention in the direction of Denis Darzacq's fabulous images of people hovering.

Yes, hovering!

You have to see them to get the idea. They are fantastic.

I did see Darzacq's images already a month-and-a-bit ago along with the video filmed on location while some of them were shot. Great footage and even greater photographs. And I put his style on my "want-to-shoot-list" already back then, and mentioned this in my mail to Chris, who wrote back:

"Interesting that you have a want to shoot list. Was talking about this today with a friend and he was asking if I have a particular style that I favour which is something I've been trying to pin down recently but have almost given up on. The conversation made me realise that I see or think of something, try to create what I had in mind and then tend to move on having proved to myself that I can produce that particular type of shot if I need to.
I know another photographer who shoots absolutely nothing but landscapes, he's very good at it but all his images are very similar and I can't understand how he doesn't get bored and want to experiment. I think I just enjoy playing around too much."

This is much along my own attitude towards photography. I know that many photographers and instructors promote strongly to find a style and a niche, and I can see the idea if you want to become a new Kander, Nachtwey, Hollenben or the like. But personally I like diversity, and rarely shoot in a particular style. I did go niche in a way by concentrating on and selling pictures of fly fishing, but a particular style that I can call mine? Not really...


I get way too inspired by other people's shots and take note of both techniques, styles and subjects - literally. I keep a list of stuff I want to shoot. Just to remember it.
My list will consist of a subject, a note and oftentimes a link or two to somewhere on the web where I can see examples if I have found any. Some ideas are my own, but many are inspired by things I have seen at shows, in magazines, in books and of course on the web. I split them into groups, like gear, subjects, techniques, locations etc. Like this:

The Copenhagen Metro
Going underground in an architecturally interesting environment. Apply for permission.

The Royal Copenhagen Library
A pearl with a lot of ambiance

Denis Darzacq's Hyper Style
People jumping, caught in mid-air. Gymnasts, parcourers, hip-hoppers?

Crewdson style
Large setups, light, haze, moody, dim ambient light, mysterious. Many models, flash, large scenes. Constructed. Hopper-like.

Skaters, skatboarders, BMX'ers
Lots of jumps and flash. Local club? Ramp in Roskilde?

People crossing...
...streets from above

Simple Landscapes
Simplistic landscapes, patterns in fields, symmetry, fences, hilltops etc.

This is far from my whole list, but just a small selection chosen to illustrate the idea. It's not profound or deep and well thought through, but just a short not for each subject to keep the idea fixed and to help me remember.

If you sometimes go into a kind of photographic cramp where you cannot get the creative juices running or have lost inspiration and ideas won't come, such a list is a great help. I keep mine on the computer, but you could just as easily have a jar with small paper notes on the shelf with your gear (and pick at random, maybe), or keep notes in a small notebook.



Your post is provocative in a couple of ways:

1. It reminds us that we all see in "video" but are capturing images of finite exposure time with results that we can only anticipate in our imagination. The most important photographic skill is our imagination, and it is extremely variable between people. Lists like yours helps to "educate" the imagination.

2. What minimal skills (or styles) should you demonstrate to call yourself an "intermediate" or "advanced amateur" photographer in your Nikonians profile? These are self-assigned labels which suggest a certain level of mastery of photographic processes. Your list (and your podcast) is a reminder that there so many different photographic experiences to be had.


I assume that you mean "provocative" in a positive way...

Although I wasn't intending to provoke really deep thoughts, but rather tell people of a simple way to harvest and store ideas, I can only agree with you that skills, styles, experience, imagination and many other factors influence your "level". Inspiration and imagination - and a certain amount of courage - can help you make great pictures. A what-to-shoot-list can help with that.

I sometimes see fantastic images with no style at all - so "lousy" that any 5-year old could have shot them (and then again), and sometimes see perfectly executed images that are simply bland, boring and uninspired.

Photographers sometimes need to break out.
Let themselves inspire.
Dare do something new.


Decent list
Great Podcast
Look forwad to the next podcast

Thanks for the mention Martin.
Although I have a mental list I never thought to record it but I love the idea of a jar full of notes, especially a jar full of notes of things to do on a rainy day, it feels like it may never stop at the moment!

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