Shooting from the hip means that, given the choice of various courses of action, a decision is reached without having the time to consider all possible outcomes of the decision. Shooting from the hip means going with one's first instincts, i.e., choosing to react quickly and, hopefully, correctly to a given situation.
As photographers, we often encounter situations where we must shoot from the hip. Often, those fleeting, decisive, moments don't offer enough time to process all the variables that might impact the results of shooting from the hip.
Sometimes, serendipity smiles on us and the images resulting from hip-shooting can be spectacular. Other times, shooting from the hip yields dismal results.
For the most part, shooting from the hip is a crap shoot.
Still, experience is our friend when we must shoot from the hip. Experience helps us reduce the odds that, when we have to roll the photographic dice, we're not gonna crap out. Experience helps us roll shaved dice: Dice that are, more often than not, going to produce the kind of results we decide on, not results fate decides to give us.
I suppose that's why there are so many web sites, photography magazines, photo-tutorials, workshops, and other media and events designed to help photographers gain knowledge and experience. It's not just about learning to shoot in the best of circumstances, that is, when time and light and subject all line up like grand, fortuitous, astronomical events.
Knowledge and experience helps us capture whatever we're pointing our cameras at, sometimes in the worst of situations, in ways that make compelling, competent, aesthetically-pleasing, technically-proficient pictures. It gives us the ability to react quickly to given situations-- to improvise, to solve problems, to capture a good image efficiently and in short order. In other words, to shoot from the hip with skill, confidence, and agility.
Sure, when we shoot from the hip we don't always get the results we hope for. Sometimes, the results exceed our expectations but, more often than we'd like, they are less than we had hoped for.
Fortunately, with dedication to learning and improving, determination and persistence in honing our craft, and having an open mind to new ideas and processes, shooting from the hip can be less an anxious and insecure event and, instead, a welcome challenge that tests our skills, experience, creativity, and know-how.
Personally, I'm gonna be one happy camper if or when I finally get to the point where shooting from the hip no longer causes me photographer-angst.
The pretty girl at the top is Diana from yesterday's shoot. It wasn't a case of shooting from the hip although, as usual, time--enough allotted time, that is--wasn't my friend.