No excuses for nothing to shoot!

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: July 22, 2010

Category: General

Armed with just one camera and one lens, my good friend Neal Hibbert and I headed off down to Brighton for a day away from it all; a kind of mini Photo Walk to just ‘shoot’ with no client, no agenda, no plan and no time limitations.

I have to say that it did feel kind of strange heading off without any of my lighting equipment, in fact as we headed off I still hadn’t quite cut the cord between me and my California Sunbounce Mini Reflector but no, we said minimum kit and minimum kit it was 🙂

Now I knew we’d have a good day; Neal and I always do having been mates for a number of years and having the same (some would say warped) sense of humour but neither of us thought it would be quite as good as it was…particularly on a photography front.

Getting out with just one camera and one lens is something I don’t get to do all that often as most if not all the photo shoots I do involve some kind of lighting equipment and a variety of lens changes so this was a real nice change from the ‘norm’.

Being a big user of Twitter and Facebook I posted what I was up to during the day and got a few questions back asking such things as ‘What lens did I take?, ‘How do I approach complete strangers and ask to take their portrait?’ and so on, so with this Saturday being the 3rd Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk I thought I’d share some of my decisions and techniques with you…

1. What Lens did I take?
I decided to take my Nikon 85mm f/1.4 Prime Lens; one of my favourite lenses but then one that I haven’t been using all that much lately as I seem to have been favouring the 70-200mm probably more out of ‘habit’. Taking out just the one lens is a great way to learn what you can and can’t do with it…it’s limitations if you like.

2. Shooting Technique?
The idea behind the day was to keep things simple so I shot in Aperture Priority and Bracketed for 5 shots each and every time. This was something I’d never really done before but having seen Jay Maisel do this on a recent Kelby Training video it made perfect sense. Set the camera up to take a rapid succession of 5 shots, each of varying exposures and one will definitely be correctly exposed meaning I’m left to just shoot without getting hung up on tweaking settings; something that came in really handy when taking portraits of complete strangers during the day.

3. Shoot in both Portrait & Landscape (Vertical & Horizontal)

4. Photographing complete strangers
Just the thought of going up to a complete stranger and asking if you can take their portrait can be quite intimidating but it really doesn’t have to be. Expect to get some No’s; not everyone is going to want to have their photograph taken but that’s to be expected however there are things you can do to increase your chances of success:

  1. Photograph in areas where cameras are common place. Seaside towns, tourist areas etc are generally flooded with people carrying cameras taking photos here there and everywhere.
  2. Ask don’t assume. If you’re going to photograph someone be sure to ask their permission. We found that just approaching with a friendly face, explaining what you were doing and asking if they’d mind having their portrait taken worked just fine; in fact we had no refusals all day.
  3. Give out business cards to everyone you photograph.
  4. Be quick! If a stranger is good enough to allow you to photograph them, then be as quick as you can so as not to draw attention to them (especially if you’re shooting someone who lives on the streets). This is another good reason for bracketing as it avoids chimping in between each shot and tweaking the exposure to get it just right…you can just compose the shot and shoot…done! Minimum fuss and minimum inconvenience for your subject.
  5. If you do get a ‘No’ then just thank them any way and move on; that really is as bad as it gets.

In Summary
If you find yourself with nothing or nobody to shoot or maybe feeling frustrated about not getting out with your camera then a Photo Walk could be the answer. Get out with just the one camera and lens and just shoot; shoot anything and everything but delete nothing and the more we do this the better we get; practice after all, makes perfect!

Getting out every day (or as much as is possible) with your camera is vital if we are to progress and develop our craft as photographers. In the Kelby Training video with Jay Maisel and Scott Kelby, Jay compared photography to Bodybuilding; sounds strange I know but think about it…

To develop their physique, does a Bodybuilder go to the gym every now and again to train or (virtually) every day? Makes sense huh 🙂

And Finally
Leave your camera on all the time and with no lens cap. You can bet your life that something will happen in front of you and if you’ve got to turn on your camera and remove the lens cap you might just as well forget it.

Above all enjoy yourself. Needless to say this is going to be a very regular thing, and Neal and myself have already planned the next ‘Mini Photo Walk’ which will see us down in Bournemouth but after that who knows where we’ll end up. What I do know though is that we’ll be out with our cameras in the fresh air, shooting, having a laugh, making some pictures and learning along the way…fancy it?

Got any questions or comments or maybe even some tips of your own, then please feel free to make use of the comments section below; it’s always great to ‘hear’ what you have to say.

Enjoy 🙂

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  1. birgit

    …just right in time for me :)))
    thanx a great deal for sharing this !
    you make me go on!

    • Glyn

      @birgit…Thanks so much for your words; very kind of you…thank you 🙂

  2. Ryan Cook

    Great shots! the Landscape lifeguard is my favorite.

    • Glyn

      @Ryan…Cheers, Ryan

  3. Rick Wenner

    Absolutely love the first portrait of the man with the beard. He’s got so much character in his face. Great shot.

    I totally agree with your statement about shooting as much as possible. The more you shoot, the better you will get. I need to take my own advice sometimes but regardless, it’s true. it’s also great to limit yourself to just one lens. I did just that during my recent fashion shoot (the video on my blog). Only used a 85mm 1.8 the whole shoot. It definitely teaches you the limitations of a specific lens but also, at the same time, makes you think more and be creative with your limitations.

    • Glyn

      @Rick…Must admit mate, the guy in the beard is my fave too.

      Getting out with the camera is as you say, so important but not always possible inbetween shoots; as we know life can just take over and before we know it another day / week has slipped by. We’re making a point now of booking in these ‘mini Photo Walks’ in the diary in advance so there’s no excuses for us then.


      @Neal…Thoroughly enjoyed it mate and yeah roll on Bournmouth on the 12th August 🙂

      @Keith…Any day without lugging the kit around is a good day in my book…lol 🙂 Must say I’m very intrigued by your mention of 3 cameras 🙂

      @Kelley…Having experienced what this was like in Brighton, I agree…could do this every day. Really looking forward to the next one in Bournmouth now 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting; really appreciate it 🙂

      @Vince…More days planned for sure!

      @David…I agree, would be great to meet at the next WWPW but are we really going to leave it that long? … I think not 🙂

  4. Neal

    Great day out mate and a very good write up indeed! The only thing I would say is it was def not a mini photowalk! We must have covered about 5 miles! 🙂 Looking forward to Kelby’s Photowalk and even more so Bournmouth. Some great shots there mate.

  5. Keith Hammond

    Good tips there mate, it is good to challenge yourself now and again and get away from your normal routine and sometimes it’s nice not to lug all the big gear around. It always amuses me at shows like Focus you see people that are dragging their whole kit around.
    Having said that, if my plans work out i will have 3 cameras on Saturday, but still trying something different.

  6. Neal

    Being the proud owner of a new 85mm lens (albeit a F1.8) I have got to say what a fab lens! I think that and my 50 F1.4 are going to take a battering in the coming weeks 🙂

  7. kelley

    Wonderful post! So right up my alley. I could do this everyday. You have a wonderful eye, which we all know but this post shows YOUR eye and not your clients. Beautiful images.

  8. Vince

    Good post as always mate! As soon as I get my hands on my 50 1.8, which as it happend with my x1.6 sensor will be about 80mm 😀 I will be doing this often and thinking about it apart from the ice hockey games will be my most used lens. When I get it we must do some of this I know some spots in Kent and itching to go to London to do this….. Looking forward to tomorrow should be a good day.

  9. David Kelly

    Nice post Glyn, definitely something right up my street though I have to admit it’s something I have less time to do now. I do try on occasions to do something similar (a smaller scale) by just having a walk along canal in Cassiobury park Watford on a Friday lunch break, but the amount of work to be done isn’t always conducive to that.

    I must admit though it’s always more interesting doing such things with other photographers – you get to bounce ideas of each others as well as have more craic along the way (one of the reasons to me as to why the WWPW is so successful).

    Hopefully I can make next years WWPW as I’d love to meet up with yourself & other local’s here and share the experience. Good luck to you all in Windsor on Saturday and looking forward to reading all about it on the blog.



  10. DaveT

    Great post and thanks for the tip re bracketing etc.

    Although the portraits are good, I like the doors; simple but eye catching.

    Out of interest, were the bracketed shots RAW or JPEG files?

    • Glyn

      @DaveT…Yeah I know what you mean mate, I seem to be drawn to ‘doors’ …. Wondering what’s going on behind them I guess 🙂

      Re the bracketed shots, they were all RAW mate.


  11. Tim Skipper

    I’m going the Kelby photo walk tomorrow. I have been looking forward to this for weeks. Your work looks amazing, thanks for sharing.

    • Glyn

      @Tim…Thanks for your kind words mate; hope you had a great day on your Photo Walk,

      Glyn 🙂

  12. Olly

    Hi Glyn

    Great post, wonderful shots and has inspired me to get out more with the camera. Having 2 young kids I always hide behind the excuse that there isn’t enough time but I guess you could achieve as much on a 10 minute walk as a 5 hour walk with the tips given.

    Am meeting a fellow tog on Monday evening so will suggest a walk now instead of the pub (or maybe a walk to the pub!)


    • Glyn

      @Olly…Great to hear that the post was useful in ‘inspiring’ you to get out mate; Neal and I had a superb time…far better than either of us expected.

      So…the question is…where did the walk take you…to the pub or not? 🙂


  13. David Kelly

    @Glyn Geez, I hope it’s not going to be that long mate but wouldn’t want to be too presumptuous would I 😉 Sometime in the next few months would good, even for a chinwag and a bit of craic.

    Weather’s looking good for you guys in Windsor tomorrow, so hope you all have fun!

    • Glyn

      @David…Definitely won’t be that long; we’ll get something sorted asap.

      All the best to you,

  14. Ian Pack

    Hi Glyn, you’ve got some cracking shots of Brighton (I live 10 miles away) and you have captured the feel of the place on what can only be described as a cr4p day! I regularly set personal challenges and projects as it keeps me fresh. I especially like shooting with one body & lens – after all that’s how I started out many moons ago.



    • Glyn

      @Ian…Hi Ian, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting 🙂
      Yeah the weather was ‘interesting’ to say the least but dry which is the main thing. My can that wind pick up on the Pier or what ?!? 🙂

      Both Neal and I had a superb day; thoroughly enjoyed the sights and characters around the place so I’m sure we’ll return at some point; next stop though is Bournmouth on the 12th August and I can’t wait.

      Thanks again, and for the kind words mate,

  15. Andy Cuadra

    That’s right Glyn- no excuses and that goes for me. I really miss being behind the camera; it’s funny how much I miss it. The boat shot is incredible; excellent work!

    • Glyn

      @Andy…Cheers Buddy, thanks for the kind words.
      All the best to you and yours,



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