Chimp-less Photography

The advent of digital photography changed the way we capture images forever. Digital also enabled a few bad habits from day one. Chief among them, we all started paying too much attention to the preview image that is displayed on the camera’s rear LCD screen a few beats after the image is captured. Often digital photographers will snap an image and pause for a moment or two waiting on the preview image to be displayed on the LCD screen. Quickly this behavior became known as “chimping”. How the term came to be is pretty clear if we imagine a photographer head down looking at the back of a cameras saying “Ooo!” through pursed lips.

The problem is that while we have our heads down the action keeps on going. How many excellent photo ops have been missed while we weren’t looking? Things are happening all around us but as photographers we may be oblivious to them if we aren’t paying attention. Imagine how many outstanding picture opportunities have been missed because the photographer was looking at the back of the camera instead of paying attention to what was going on right in front of them. Nobody will ever know the opportunities that have been missed but there is something we can do to avoid losing out on the next important photo op.

Tip: Prevent the problem by not looking at every preview image after capturing a picture. If the preview image is too tempting and demands your attention, you can disable the preview image through the camera's menu system thereby avoiding the temptation to chimp.

Sometimes we do need to pay attention to the preview image. Properly used, the preview image can help the photographer prevent problems with exposure and composition. A brief inspection of the preview image will affirm what the photographer saw through the viewfinder. However after the first few previews have been inspected the photographer doesn’t need to inspect more image captured in the same location and light.

Our tip to beginning photographers is to shoot more, chimp less! Keep right on shooting pictures right up until the event is complete, review your images later. By remaining focused on what is happening in the immediate environment the photographer will miss fewer photo opportunities and increase the odds of capturing their next great picture!


  1. Something I’ve been doing lately to keep from “chimping”…..
    Take a few set up shots before you start shooting your subject. That way you have a chance to make an adjustment, then you are free to go crazy and shoot all you want…. with no monkey on your back… ;o)

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