Back to Basics: 10 Questions to Ask When Taking a Digital Photo

Posted on June 7, 2011


Every few months I take a moment to step back and re-evaluate my work.  Is there something I can do better?  Is there a place I haven’t shot yet – maybe right in front of me?  And I take note of where I need to grow.  I began doing photography at a very young age.  My father was a photographer for a long time and until I moved out on my own I had full access to an in-home darkroom.  Over the years I had this amazing opportunity to create, explore, and experiment with what I felt visually appealing.  As the years went on and I lost that immediate access to a darkroom, I made the transition to digital photography.  I will always be in love with the idea of black and white film, rolled in a pitch black room – photos shot with a camera older than yourself, and that peaceful, calming process of being alone in the darkroom with your film and your thoughts, eagerly anticipating the end product.  With that said, I revel in the excitement and versatility that digital photography has to offer.  While I feel that I have learned a lot over the years since I been shooting digital, I find that every once in a while I need to take a step back and go “Back to Basics.”

I recently read an article called “10 Questions to Ask When Taking a Digital Photo” by Darren Rowse featured on  I found this article to be both insightful and helpful in taking me back to basics.  Rowse states that there are 10 major questions you should ask yourself:

What story am I trying to tell with this photo?

1. What story am I telling?

2. What is the visual focal point of this shot?

3. What competing focal points are there?

4. What is in the background and foreground?

5. Am I close enough?

6. What is the main source of light?

7. Is my Framing Straight?

8. What other perspectives could I capture this subject from?

9. How would holding the camera in the other format change this shot?
10. How will the eye travel through this image?

Oh course I ask that you read the post itself and then consider taking an inventory of your work.  This article is a good basis for both beginning photographers and a reminder to those of us who have been shooting for many years.

While these 10 Questions are important and fundamental to our work, there are many that would argue that asking too many questions or thinking too hard about your shots may cause you to miss something wonderful or take the joy out of the process.  Whether you need the 10 Questions or not, just remember what photography is all about: Shooting photos from the heart.  You remember that and you will make beautiful memories.


#A.L. Kohlmann