Photography Vision

Why You Should Shoot like Johnny Depp

polka dots copyright Aloha Lavina

Johnny Depp doesn’t like to watch his own movies. He makes them, and from what we see, he seems to work hard at them, evidenced by the nuanced performances in his films.

In an interview with BBC Radio, he talks about his hesitance to watch his own films. The bottom line is, he enjoys the creative process more than the finished product.

Process-driven people have an advantage over product-driven people, and that single advantage is that process-driven people tend to be more engaged in what they do. Yes, you can argue that working toward a goal in mind is a prerequisite for engagement in what you do, but the difference is that if you are completely engaged in the process, you do not become distracted by thoughts of the brilliant results you can achieve. Thinking about the end may be a distraction to total focus while you are creating.vachini k for big chili magazine copyright Aloha Lavina all rights reserved

Many studies of creative people have revealed some simple ways that they engage in their work. Like any skills, these can be practiced as techniques until they become part of a creative workflow.

Prepare in great detail.

Before engaging in a highly creative process, prepare. Much like the actor must block scenes and memorize lines and think of gesture and posture, the photographer can think of all the technical details that will go into successful shots. These can include:

  • Equipment needed.
  • Lighting conditions.
  • Vantage points or where to shoot in relation to the subject.
  • Type of shot and camera settings.
  • Props you may need, for instance filters for landscapes or objects/furniture for a portrait shoot.
  • Schedule or timeline needed for success.

Once you get these dry details out of the way, you can free yourself up for creative expression once your shoot is underway. Not having to be distracted by details is a good way to evoke total engagement in the process of creating beautiful shots.

Have a pre-shot routine.

I learned this technique from golfing. It’s related to the preparation above, but it is more tied into the actual moment just before pressing the shutter.

In golf, the pre-shot routine consists of a series of repeatable actions that a golfer performs just before the swing. This routine is designed to get the thinking out of the way before the body performs the swing, so that the mind doesn’t get in the way of the body’s expression. Ask any golfer who is an avid student of golf, and they will tell you that thinking often interrupts a smooth swing and is detrimental to a good shot. The thoughts you have prior to your swing dictates how your body will respond to the task.polka dots copyright Aloha Lavina

If we transpose this pre-shot routine to taking a photograph, the thoughts you have just prior to pressing the shutter are equally important. Having a pre-shot checklist before you press the shutter is essential to maximizing your chances of getting the perfect shot, and it also gives you confidence that you have done all you can to ensure the conditions are optimal to capture a great photograph. These can include:

  • A routine for checking and changing settings.
  • A routine for a rhythm of breathing that will eliminate shaking and give you a sharp image.
  • A routine for checking that everything in the frame is as you intend it to be.

Suspend all judgment while you create.

This is really important and really hard to do. It’s easy for us to always be critical of ourselves and what we do, especially if we have high expectations of ourselves.vachini k for big chili magazine cover july 2011 copyright Aloha Lavina all rights reserved.

But judgment is distracting. If you are always critiquing your actions based on your results, that’s a sign that you are still in result-driven mode, and that means you are not fully concentrating on the task at hand.

Zooming your attention into what you are doing to get a shot is the singularity of your task as a creative photographer. It’s the only moment that will give you a good shot. You can’t keep kicking yourself for what you did wrong a moment ago; it’s beyond correction now. Similarly, you can’t get a great shot by living in the future; you can only do what you can, right at this moment. Give the moment all that
you are, and the beauty and goodness in that image will take care of itself.

How do you give your photography focus?

Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage.

You might also like:
Sell an Experience, Not Just Photos
Nine Things Rupert Murdoch can Teach Photographers
10 Things a Photog can Learn from Golfers
Cut the CRAP–Just Take Pictures
10 Things Tyra Banks can Teach You about Portrait Photography


  1. i’m new to photography world and reading your blogs made me inspired to be good. Thank you for sharing tips and tricks, I highly love your blog and site. 🙂 More power!!! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.Required fields are marked *