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How To Make the Most of a Short Photography Shoot

It is early morning in the second week of April.

I have come out to take some photographs, but I have less than an hour to spend this morning.

There is no sunrise, just a dull morning with no real light.

I am heading to my local woodland area as it’s the shortest distance to travel.

I want to make the most of the short time I have today, so I have a plan.

I'm going to shoot woodland ‘characters’ and name them.

The Intruder

The Horse's Head

Gathering of Friends

The Chaser

The Elephant


Laid Back

The Teacher

My inspiration for this shoot was a video from Jamie Overland

I often find that I need a plan for my early morning shoots.

If I had hours to spare, I could spend time wandering, observing, looking out for great compositions.

I can often do this later in the day but in the mornings my time can sometimes be limited, and these are the occasions on which I need a definite plan.

Planning to make the most of a limited-time shoot can be difficult.

There is the issue of which lens or lenses to take to minimise the amount of time you spend changing lenses yet ensure you have what you need.

You must plan your location so that you don’t spend a lot of time driving to get there or walking a long distance when you arrive.

You need to plan what you will shoot as not knowing what you want to shoot will result in wasting time looking for a composition or frustration when a good subject proves elusive.

I find that when I stick to the mantra Keep It Simple I have more chance of making the most of a short photography shoot.

Sticking to one aspect of photography rather than trying to do too much helps ensure that I make the best use of limited time.

As well as planning to shoot some woodland characters, my other recent outings included a morning of intentional camera movement (ICM) photography in the woodland and a morning when I concentrated on finding a minimalist composition.

ICM images


A simple or minimalist style of photography is not easy to achieve in a woodland setting but one morning I spent some time looking for a scene that might produce a minimalist image.

I didn't quite find the right composition for minimalist photography, but I did find this scene where I could capture a more simple image than I usually find in my woodland.

Another suggestion which I found in this video from Chris Sale is to stop in one place and stand or set your tripod there.

Using the focal lengths marked on the barrel of your lens, take a photograph at each focal length, in landscape format, then take the same images in portrait orientation.

You will have a set of very different images without spending time searching or having to walk too far.

Images from 18mm to 200mm, landscape orientation.

While the images aren't great, the exercise did give me a taste of what is possible to achieve using this approach.

I enjoy experimenting and learning more than returning with just one decent image.


Unless you are a professional photographer you will likely have many demands on your time and many of your chances to get out with your camera will be short outings.

I hope these suggestions will help you to get the best out of the time you do spend with your camera and help you to really enjoy that time.

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