shoot from the hip

Picking up your camera, shooting, and challenging yourself is the best way to improve your photography. The Creativity Exercises within the Clickin Moms photography forum are a great source for finding new ways to challenge yourself. On the first Monday of every month the wonderful Sarah Wilkerson posts a new tutorial and challenges our members to shoot with the exercise in mind. While the exercises are ongoing, at the end of each month we choose a few images as the ‘Editors’ Choice’ and share them here with you on the blog. How fun is that?! Today we are sharing September’s exercise with you below!

creativity exercise | shooting from the hip

This month, try shooting from the hip. It will alter your perspective as an artist, requiring you to see the scene beyond the viewfinder; while you won’t be able to compose as deliberately, you may discover this shift in perspective and artistic freedom bring some wonderful new qualities to your images. It will also change the dynamic with your subjects in that you can connect face-to-face during shooting — or go completely the opposite way and shoot totally inconspicuously. With that in mind, while this is a fantastic and well-loved technique for street photographers, it can also be used as a personal exercise in letting go, shooting intuitively, and forcing a new perspective that may itself bring forth unexpected inspiration.

Here are a few tips for shooting from the hip:

#1 Set your exposure in advance
You won’t be looking through your viewfinder, and you don’t want to be fiddling with dials from the hip — so set your exposure ahead of time. If you’re going to be moving in and out of changing light, you may even want to consider putting your camera in full-auto or one of the program modes (such as aperture priority – see the next tip!); if you’re letting the camera set exposure as you go, be sure to use matrix/evaluative metering rather than spot metering.

#2 Close down your aperture
Closing down will increase the likelihood of getting your intended subject in focus. An aperture of f/8 or higher is a good place to start. My personal jumping off point is around f/11. As you improve with this style of shooting, you may find that you become more adept at working effectively with a shallower depth of field, if that is your stylistic preference.

#3 Increase your shutter speed
Shooting from the hip means that you aren’t using your traditional grip with the camera steadied between your face and two hands. In many cases, it also means that you may be shooting more on the move — such as walking while shooting in burst mode! For both reasons, you may find yourself needing a faster than normal shutter speed when shooting this way — I’d suggest 1/250sec or faster.

Note, of course, that between the fast shutter speed and the small aperture, you may need to boost your ISO considerably. As always, this is about balancing your technical limitations with your creative decisions!

#4 Prefocus
Find a point of reference on which to establish your plane of focus. For example, focus on the chair four feet ahead of you, then switch your camera’s focus mode to manual so that it won’t change when you depress the shutter button. Alternatively, use the distance scale on the focus ring of the lens; it’s a rather underutilized feature that allows you to manually specify the focus distance.

With the focus distance now set, visualize where the focal plane exists (in our example, that’s four feet ahead of you), and position yourself relative to your subject accordingly as you shoot from the hip.

#5 Autofocus
I know, I know – make up your mind, right? Autofocus can be a great technique as well. If you go this route, rather than setting a focus point, I’d suggest setting your camera’s focus mode to general area autofocus. Newer model Nikons, for example, will focus on the closest person detected in the frame using human recognition / facial recognition technology when the camera is set to Auto Area AF. With Canon’s “Automatic Selection” AF area mode, the camera will focus on nearest subject with adequate detail.

If you choose to use autofocus, you may also have more freedom to experiment with somewhat shallower depth of field, since your camera will be grabbing focus on something (unlike manual focus, which may or may not achieve focus on anything in the frame), and you can let the focal plan fall off from that point.

#6 Use a wide angle lens
Using a wide angle lens with street photography helps to incorporate wonderful context and depth. More generally, a wider field of view also increases the likelihood of getting your subject fully or properly in the frame, leaving you sufficient room to crop as needed after the fact.

#7 Hold the Camera By the Lens
Holding the camera by the lens — rather than the traditional hold on the camera body — helps the optics to become an extension of you. This technique is likely to increase your framing accuracy as you point the lens towards your desired subject or scene.

#8 Seek Out Design Elements and Interesting Light
The same principles apply here as they do with traditional shooting: the inclusion of design elements and use of beautiful light invariably makes for an interesting image, and knowing that your shooting will be less controlled, incorporating design elements and interesting light/shadow can be particularly advantageous if the image ends up being a bit more abstract than you intended. Prioritize the light, and seek out complementary colors, fantastic textures, strong lines, or bold shapes when visualizing your shot.

#9 Eyes up, Camera Down
This is more of a reminder than a tip. One of the benefits of shooting from the hip is that you can explore the scene visually, unencumbered by the camera in front of your face and the boundaries of the viewfinder — so be scanning and visualizing what is out in front of you rather than looking down at the camera you’re holding.

Similarly, while it’s tempting to bring the camera up to your face intermittently, do your best to just leave it at your side or in your lap and fire away. Chimp every now and again if you must to check the success of your exposure, focus, and framing — but keep that viewfinder away from your face!

Worst case scenario? If you take enough shots, there’s a very good chance that you’ll have some unexpected images of interest … and even if they don’t meet your personal standards, you can always use them as serendipitous inspiration pieces to guide more deliberate, traditionally composed photographs after the fact. So LET GO and give it a shot (or twenty!).

editors choice!

shoot from the hip photo

Congratulations to the ladies below whose photographs were selected as this month’s Editors Choices!

Kerri ‘odeya’:

shoot from the hip photo

Gea Keller-Visser ‘geainfrance’:

shoot from the hip photo

‘woohooie’:

shoot from the hip photo

Lindsay ‘lamoeser’:

shoot from the hip photo

Nicole Begley ‘nrbegley’:

shoot from the hip photo

Mabel Chow ‘mavie’:

shoot from the hip photo

Claudia Centorame-Hagan ‘clautown’:

shoot from the hip photo

Michelle ‘michellekphoto’:

shoot from the hip photo

Thank you to everyone who participated in the exercise! We love seeing all the beautiful imagery!

Do you want to participate in the next Creativity Exercise? Visit the forum here where Sarah Wilkerson has challenged us with the theme “Deliberate Underexposure“. Don’t have a membership to Clickin Moms yet? Head on over here to sign up! You can still participate in this ‘Shooting From The Hip’ challenge by either visiting the forum here or sharing with us in the comments below. We’d love to see your work!

shoot from the hip photo

 

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7 Responses to “shoot from the hip”

  1. Oct 11 2013 at 11:17 am #

    Thanks for choosing one of my images from the exercise! I’m honored! Can’t wait to play around for this month’s exercise!

  2. Melina
    Oct 11 2013 at 11:45 am #

    Beautiful images ladies!

  3. Oct 11 2013 at 11:52 am #

    Awesome article! Inspiring me to do this now. :) Thanks!!!

  4. Claudia
    Oct 12 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    Thanks for choosing my image!, make me happy for sure…
    before this exercise I would never shoot a palm tree without leaves, this open my eyes to things that I´m missing for been very explicit in my photographs and help me a lot to be more playful in the future.
    If you happen to read this and never try before, do it just for fun, take the risk. I thought about the settings before, and left room for the dark and shadows, try a different setting if did not work well, and forget about framing…

  5. Stephanie A. Johnson
    Oct 30 2013 at 10:12 pm #

    Definitely gonna try this. Great pic!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. LIFE IS GETTING THERE AND I´M MAKING IT HAPPEN… | - Oct 12 2013

    […] exposed”,  and leave my comfort zone, box, home…   This is the link if you want to see…http://www.clickinmoms.com/blog/shoot-from-the-hip-photography-tutorial-by-sarah-wilkerson/   Before this exercise I would never shoot a palm tree without leaves, this open my eyes to things […]

  2. Walking the Dog | Orrville OH pet photographer » Captured by Kerri Photography - Oct 21 2013

    […] Choice Award from Clickin Mom’s for the monthly creativity exercise. See the post here Shooting from the Hip. This was the first time I had ever tried shooting from the hip, and found it to be a fun way to […]

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