TECH TIP: Getting the Shot with Corey Rich: Listening to your Subjects

by Corey Rich

Whenever I approach a shoot, whether that’s a commercial shoot or just I’m just shooting with my friends for fun, I often have preconceived ideas about what I want capture. That’s my shot list, and it always includes several ideas for the wide/“establishing” shot, the medium shot, and the detail shots. Those three categories of photographs are what you need to tell a complete visual story.

Yet, part of the magic of going out and making pictures is the spontaneous creativity that happens when you’re on location. What I’ve noticed over the years, however, is that it takes a really open mind and an open ear to listen to your subjects and draw from their creativity for what would make a dynamic, great picture.

In my latest Tech Tip for Adorama TV, I explore the creative process of working with some of my favorite subjects: the Jackson family of kayakers. The Jacksons are a kayaking dynasty. Eric, Emily and Dane are all world-class kayakers who love adventure, running beautiful and intense rivers and playing in the water.

This picture of the Jacksons barreling down a dirt road, with beautiful even back light, and shallow depth of field, really captures the freewheeling spirit of the Jacksons. And the idea for this photo came from the father Eric Jackson himself.

I probably would’ve never come up with the idea for this photo on my own, and if we had just stuck to my own shot list, we would’ve never taken this dynamic picture. But finding that synergy with your subjects, and thinking out of the box, and being open to spontaneous creative ideas, are really what make for great pictures. And it’s really what makes going to work every day so much fun.

So make that shot list, but don’t be afraid to put it away when a great idea comes barreling toward you.

Hope you enjoy this latest Tech Tip, and be sure to check out more videos like this on

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