3 Reasons Good Photographers are Like Snipers

Sgt. Nicholas Irving takes aim during the 9th Annual U.S. Army International Sniper Competition - Photo credit:  U.S. Army

Sgt. Nicholas Irving takes aim during the 9th Annual U.S. Army International Sniper Competition – Photo credit: U.S. Army

No, I didn’t write that headline for SEO juice. Good photographers really are a lot like snipers.

Deliberate

A sniper is deliberate in his shots. He doesn’t “spray and pray” or fire indiscriminately. There are many things that go into a proper sniper shot. Identifying the target, locating the best shooting location, identifying obstacles, adjusting the weapon, and much more goes into a good shot. A good photographer is also deliberate. Take time to identify your subject, find the best shot angle, identify obstacles to the shot such as bad backgrounds, adjust your camera settings, and make sure you get the shot you are aiming to get.

Breath Control

The US Field Manual for Sniper Training says: “If the sniper breathes while trying to aim, the rise and fall of his chest causes the rifle to move.” This is where the phrase “inhale, kill, exhale” comes from. While photographers are looking to take a photo rather than shoot a target with bullets, the principle is the same. If you breathe during the actual trip of the shutter, you are moving your camera and a moving camera creates blur. Inhale, take the photo, exhale.

Squeeze the Trigger

A sniper that jerks the trigger isn’t going to hit anything he was aiming at. Kinetic force has to go somewhere and if you yank the trigger that force is transferred to the rifle and the rifle moves. Same thing in photography. If you stab the shutter button like you are trying to poke someone’s eye out that force is transferred to the camera and the camera moves. The camera moves and you have blur again. Slowly press the shutter button. Today’s shutter buttons don’t need a lot of pressure to trip them, you can be gentle.

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