How To Use The O.R.S. Method

Updated: Oct 22

Objective, Reactive, Subjective photography is the way I usually satisfy my clients, and it’s a way to approach photography when you wander into the world outside your domain in search of a great shot.

“Objective” means both the objective of my photography at the moment and the need to look at something objectively as either a shot you want or need, or a scene with little or no potential. This shot shows Amanda Shaw, one of Louisiana's finest musicians, getting energetic while playing rather than singing (both of which she does quite well). My objective was to get shots of Amanda on Stage and I objectively looked for moments which I thought would make appealing photos.

I have no problem rejecting a bunch of shots during developing but I want to minimize the time I'll waste going through them


“Reactive” means seeing the shot and reacting quickly to get it. To do that effectively you have your camera set to exposure parameters that will capture the shot with enough detail and, most importantly, focused properly, so that you can refine the look of the photo in developing. I’ve yet to work a job in which one basic exposure setting will get what I need out of every situation. The lighting will be different in each room of the hotel convention area. The lighting will be vastly different if the event moves outdoors, etc., so I shoot RAW files and exploit the ability of my software to get detail from highlights and shadows.


“Subjective” means that I look for something in the scene that adds drama or excitement or interest, something that might make the image unusually appealing, more than simply documentation of the moment. In this case Amanda's position relative to the other musicians, her body posture at the moment, and, in developing, making her stand out in the shot, hoping to give it some "pop" and drama. I usually shot 3 shot bursts hoping that 1 of the 3 will be great.


O.R.S. photography is my way of keeping my steps simple while being ready to react in situations over which I have no control and the details of which are difficult to predict. You can only prepare so much for active situations, like concerts and conventions, so the O.R.S. method lets me keep up with the action and avoid too many shots that will never be used.

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