Benefits Of A Rapid Workflow

‘Annecy’, Haute-Savoie, Rhône-Alpes
Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III, 24-70mm f/2.8L, 30 seconds @ f/14 ISO50
LEE 3-stop ProGlass ND + 2-stop ProGlass ND + 2-stop ND grad
Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 + Manfrotto 405 Pro Geared Head.
Adobe Lightroom.

“While the methodical mechanics of photograph making benefit from a slow considered approach, the more artistic aspects benefit most from a completely different mindset.”

Benefits Of A Rapid Workflow

Conventional wisdom is that landscape photography benefits from a slow considered methodical approach, and for those of us taking our first steps, learning the craft, such an approach pays dividends. If we can slow down and take time to really ‘see’ our composition and fine tune our viewpoint to optimise the juxtaposition and relationships within the frame then we optimise our chance of creating a compelling image. However experienced we become, a huge proportion of our success from the ‘technique’ or ‘craft’ side of our photography comes from eliminating unwanted variables like camera-shake, incorrect exposure, soft-focus and myriad other potential errors.

The practice of photography is a challenging mix of art and science and these more practical aspects of workflow are part of the ‘science’, as we progress along our journey of discovery and become more accomplished, we perfect our understanding of the craft by being methodical and taking things slowly. With practice, the process of arriving on location, finding a composition, setting up our camera and capturing our image, becomes second nature, like driving a car or riding a bike. We never stop learning this practical side of the genre and however long we’ve been practicing, we always remain capable of making simple mistakes; but the more we can push the practical aspects into our subconscious functioning, the calmer we become and the more space we can make for the ‘art’ of photography: ‘creative space’.

While the methodical mechanics of photograph making benefit from a slow considered approach, the more artistic aspects benefit most from a completely different mindset. Certainly, the relaxed state of presence required for photographic expression only ever becomes possible once we have perfected our technique; but   when we are able to function without thinking, a wonderful thing happens: it’s almost as though we become one with our camera, our previous technical distractions become invisible and creativity is offered centre-stage. In this creative realm, a slow approach can sometimes be counter-productive, there are benefits in a more reactive approach.

Many of my personal favourite images were made after arriving late at a location, often badly prepared without the benefit of a previous visit or adequate research. There is an excitement that comes from such a forced rapid workflow, it keeps me focused. So it was that I arrived by this lake-side. I quickly set up the camera with my generic settings, and as I swiftly scanned the scene, these sun-kissed peaks in the background caught my eye. Paradoxically, the creative, ‘art’ side of landscape photography thrives on immediacy and reactivity.

This article first appeared in Outdoor Photography Magazine. Reproduced with kind permission.