Before Shooting Checklist
Taking a great shot can be a lot more complicated than point at the subject and push the button. There are also other things to consider that maybe don't involve your camera at all. Spend a few minutes searching photo fails on the internet to see some great examples of where a photo has gone wrong - there are many examples!
I always go into a shoot with a plan in mind or visualising the shot I want to achieve. This is especially when the shoot is for a paying client. You only get one chance to shoot a client unless you are doing a re-shoot and although there is always post production software such as Photoshop or Lightroom, you can save yourself a lot of time by being aware of your surroundings and camera settings prior to your shoot.
Let's work through the checklist on the card with more detail.
1. Check surroundings for distractions.
Look around prior to taking the photo. Check and make sure that the background is not too distracting, there is nothing in the way of the perfect shot.
I recently saw a gorgeous portrait photo on social media that had a small child peeing behind the subjects head. Yes, there is software you can use to replace or alter the background but it is a lot easier and quicker to spot for a minute prior to taking the shot to wait for the kid to move.
2. Check composition.
This is a chance to make sure that the placement of your image is what you had in mind. A simple and slight move of the hand, camera or subject can make for a much more dramatic shot.
3. Check subject.
This is relevant for all subject types. People, animals, flora or fauna etc. But this is especially relevant for people. Spending a few minutes to ensure there are no stray hairs sticking up or covering the face can prevent an image from being ruined. A quick check to make sure clothing is in place. A crooked tie can be difficult to fix post production and can also ruin a photo. I always spend a few seconds to start at the very top of the subject and run my eye to the bottom checking for anything that may ruin a photo.
A common one to look for is glasses and the glare that can occur. Check your positioning the ensure there is no glare within the photo as this can cover the subjects eyes in the photo. A slight change in position can help this. Also considering a UV filter.
When shooting other subjects also check things like dead leaves on a flower etc. By removing this or repositioning a flower can improve or save your image.
4. Check image quality.
This refers to your image quality setting. Is your camera set to RAW, jpg or both? What is the difference?