Ten Tips

Ten Tips for Shooting from the Hip

The Cigarette
Tip 1 - Get Up Close
Tip 2 - Use Mirrors
Tip 3 - McTable Shot
Tip 4 - Looking Down
Tip 5 - The Photographer as Subject
Tip 6 - Make your own Luck
Tip 7 - Be Ready to Shoot
Tip 8 - Embedded Hip Shot
Tip 9 - Looking Up
Tip 10 - Self Portrait

Lomography's Rule #4: Shooting from the Hip is a great way to explore the spontaneous, random, by chance, serendipitous nature of photography. If there is a skill required, it is the ability to approximate, if luck is demanded, it can be sought by feverish pursuit.

Digital Photography has enabled Shooting from the Hip to flourish, with its instant viewing and low cost of disposing mistakes. This feedback loop can sharpen the approximation perspective of the disciplined photographer, helping to correlate your field of view with that of your camera. Digital's temporary nature wastes nothing but a little time, encouraging all photographers to give Hip Shooting a try.

Point of view is so elementary to photography that when we choose to eliminate the use of the viewfinder, we are displacing basic assumptions of visual art making, demanding alternative senses replace the basic instinct of viewing what you photo. The format establishes requirements below the skills necessary to take a casual snap shot, but the results are expected to be better.

Visualizing a composition from a tangential point of view is a challenge that can help you to see all things in a new way. Developing a Hip Shot mentality on photo outings can raise opportunities for your viewfinder restricted images as well, because it prepares you to see events from multiple perspectives.

No matter how you prepare, Shooting from the Hip comes down to a certain amount of luck. Getting the timeliness and vantage point required for a great photo requires a combination and coordination of many events which under the best conditions is difficult to achieve, but when you remove the viewfinder element you push the limit of vision to an extreme. This is where luck comes in. When it arrives, and it occasionally will, embrace it openly and remember: the more you shoot, the luckier you will become.

Tip 1 – Use wide angle lens and get close to your subjects.

Tip 2 – Practice self portraits in mirrors to get a feel for field of view.

Tip 3 – Setting the camera on a table is one of the easiest set-ups.

Tip 4 – Hold the camera above your head when in crowded conditions.

Tip 5 – Minor change of perspective can have a nice effect on the image.

Tip 6 – The more you shoot, the luckier you get.

Tip 7 – Develop a Hip Shot mentality when on photo outings.

Tip 8 – Embed a reflection to lay evidence of the Hip Shot.

Tip 9 – Your foot makes a great universal mono-pod.

Tip 10 – Use your shadow to frame the shot.

(see more comments in Photo Descriptions)

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6 responses

  • Gary Davis

    Gary Davis gave props (27 Oct 2008):

    Solid advice on how to convert more hip shots from wasted space totop of the pile

  • Peter McLaughlin

    Peter McLaughlin said (27 Oct 2008):

    The beauty (or sadness) of digital is the endless "clicking" of the shutter. Instead of a 1 or 2 good shot in a roll, we now shoot to our hearts content and delete those that don't measure up. Does digital allow us to be better photographers or just luckier?

  • Will F

    Will F said (28 Oct 2008):

    "disposing mistakes" i dont understand your use of the term mistake, surly the utter nature of not looking at what you are shooting ensures nothing you take is a mistake?
    I find half the fun is not knowing what you have taken till a week of so after!
    well written though.

  • James Menges

    James Menges said (28 Oct 2008):

    Thanks for your comments. As a film and full frame (no cropping) purist for years, I finally broke down and got my first Digital SLR, only to realize some benefits that I had overlooked. By taking advantage of two main features: instant feedback and no processing cost, one can quickly and cost-effectively hone their skills to make Hip Shot images look as good as viewfinder framed images. Keeping every digital capture, especially during a learning process, becomes a personal one based on storage capacity and potential later use. In general people make their own luck by successfully controlling what they can; and putting themselves in a position to benefit from what they cannot.

  • Renee Cettie

    Renee Cettie gave props (29 Oct 2008):

    well written, thanks for the advice. I didn't realize until recently that my "technique" for shooting crowd shots had a term. I just did what i had to do given my height restrictions :)

  • Lois Martin

    Lois Martin gave props (3 Nov 2008):

    Thanks for the tips, great advice for everyone.

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