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Image Review

The image review screen is a huge blessing for today’s digital photographers, and can speed up the learning curve and development of a photographer. But it can also hurt you.

I’ve used the image review screen as an icebreaker on rare occasions when I felt it could help to show a subject I’m photographing the image on the back of my camera. But most of the time I selfishly guard it. Things can go wrong. Once when photographing children in a village in Kigali, when the secret got out that the picture was immediately available on the back of the camera after the shutter was pressed, that was the end of the photo session. Children clamored around me to get a glimpse of the picture just shot. It was fun but not photographically fruitful (4.15).

4.15. I try to limit my peeking at the image review screen because it distracts me from the task at hand—making photographs. When kids find out about the picture magically appearing on the screen, it can be a blessing or a curse as you continue to shoot, so be careful!
© George Barya


There’s also a danger of showing your subject the image and them reacting badly to what they see, sending the shooting session into a downward spiral that you can’t recover from.

My main problem with the image review screen as brought up in Step 2—and why I turn it off—is that it breaks my concentration. I want to give my full attention to what is happening in front of me. I can always press the picture button to review, but mostly I ignore it. It takes some experience to build your confidence to the point where you “need” to look less. When I’m in the field and I know what I’m looking for, I shoot, shoot, and shoot. Short of checking the histogram to assess the exposure, I don’t spend time looking at what I’ve just shot. I tend to side with master wildlife photographer Thomas Mangelsen.

“I was with a good friend in the Pantanal in Brazil this summer and I’m always giving him a hard time about chimping because we were watching jaguars, they’re rare, they’re endangered, they’re skittish and your opportunity is short. The jaguar would be moving along the river, and I would be looking, looking, looking, and I’d look over at my friend and he would be chimping. I caught myself literally yelling at him a couple times. ‘You know the jaguar’s here, keep shooting!’ But he was so consumed with seeing what he got and his rationale was to look for a mistake, maybe he needs to fix exposure...fair enough. He was chimping and editing in the back of his camera, deleting, deleting, deleting, and I just can’t really tell. I can get the general idea of what I shot on the back of the camera, but I’m not so damn sure there might be something there I don’t want to throw away. I spend my time looking for the good stuff as opposed to deleting the bad stuff. I don’t really care about the bad stuff.”

—Tom Mangelsen

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