Are Second Takes Better?

Are Second Takes Better?

Photographers are always striving to create something new. But, we shouldn’t discount the value that comes with the occasional second take.

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I’ve talked before about our old photographic stomping grounds. These are the places near and dear to us, easily accessible, the areas we can manage to visit after work or on weekends because they’re close to home. Naturally, these places are where a great many of our images are taken, and over time, because we’ve revisited them so much, they can start to seem a little boring. In the past, I’ve mentioned how it’s good to take on these well-trod places as a way to build creativity. After all, it’s not that there are no more photographs to be taken there. Only, it’s become harder to see them because we’ve already taken all the most obvious photographs.

This time around, I’m going to touch on something a little bit different. And that’s the idea of doing a second take. I think this is another good reason to keep going back to those places you’ve photographed before. And maybe it’s even a good reason to retake some of the photographs you’ve taken before.

On the surface, that might seem like a waste of time. Why redo what has already been done? My counter to that argument is that it’s not about redoing what you’ve already done so much as it is about applying the knowledge you gained the first time around to the second venture.

For instance, let’s say a nearby park is one of your favorite spots to visit. But you’ve already photographed a particular monument on display there. Why photograph that monument again? Because hopefully, the first time you did it, you studied the finished photograph with a critical eye and noted anything that left you less than pleased. Maybe the lighting was a bit off, the colors not quite right, perhaps you wanted more contrast between shadows and bright spots. There could be any number of things you found that could be improved on. Your second take at that same photograph is a chance to take what you learned the first time around and apply it to create a better photograph.

From that standpoint, second takes may be a wise idea, and maybe even third, fourth and fifth takes. With digital photography, there is no real limit to how many photographs you can take, so feel free to repeat some and learn as you do so. Each time you retake a photograph, you’ll doubtless learn something new about how to best portray it. Within reason, of course! The learning process will slow down once you’ve taken enough photos of the same thing. This is even something that could be applied to post-processing, too. You may find value in post processing the same digital negative more than once. Go through it the first time, post-process it in the way that you think best, and as you’re doing so, you’ll be learning about the image and getting a feel for it. Then make a fresh copy and experiment. Try slightly different processes, more or less sharpness, contrast or saturation. You may find that the second take turns out better simply because now that you’ve spent time with the image, you’ve become more familiar with exactly what it needs to stand out in your collection.


About the author

Will Moneymaker

I love making photographs and exploring my surroundings through my lens. Follow along as I share my thoughts and adventures in the art of photography.