Aim Small, Hit Small

I have been mentoring at Foundation Workshop for several years now and during the last one I visited one of my students who is documenting a family.  It was unusually warm that day in Texas (normally I would be wearing close to 4 layers of clothing at that time of the year), so the family was playing in their backyard to soak up some sun.  The dad was training his youngest daughter, pitching small light balls for her to hit, and every single time she would hit the smaller balls he would pick a different ball that is bigger, up to a real baseball.

The dad kept on saying “Aim Small, Hit Small”.  Right before every pitch, he would say those same exact words, over and over again, which really caught my attention.  That attention became curiosity and I would ask the dad what it really meant and why would he keep saying that to his daughter prior to her swinging to hit it.  He then explained to me that it actually originated from the target practice at shooting ranges, where most people would see the whole target and not be able to focus correctly on the middle of the target primarily because their focus is divided and affected by the size of the target itself.  Because they see the target in its entirety, then they would miss the middle point of the target.

He then moved on to the different balls that he was using, and even in the actual baseball, he was making his daughter focus on the small ball on the baseball logo for her to concentrate on hitting.

Aim Small, Hit Small.

This process is so close to what we have to deal with when we take pictures, at times we see a scene and we tend to want to capture everything and not able to get the essence of the actual scene, simply because there isn’t any focus on what is going on.  Also when we focus on the little things and made sure that we are waiting for the peak moment on that particular moment, then the picture normally would come out better to begin with.  How many times have we been presented by a scene where everything is moving and we don’t know where to start?  How many times have we come to this situation and we ended up not shooting anything and coming up with nothing?  How many times have we shot so many things outside of the scope of our stories just to feel like we are doing something?

Aim Small, Hit Small.

Focus is the name of the game, and when we focus on a single point at a time, our minds can be clear for once, neglecting any other movements surrounding our target and if we get that right then we can move on and add other things to our frame and build our layers and stories from it.

Focusing on your target also means that you are ready with your swing.  Once the ball leaves the hand of the pitcher, if you still have to swing back the bat to hit it, you will never hit it.  Be ready.  Be ok with dedicating your full attention to what you want to capture.

Start with something really small that captures our attention, then build from it as we keep focus on that interesting thing, and your images will be better.

Aim Small, Hit Small.