If you have been a photographer for more than a few weeks, you have probably heard the term “chimping”.  The label is used to describe a photographer who constantly checks their LCD screen after every shot.  Click, chimp, click, chimp, click click click, chimp chimp chimp.  Sometimes, when other photographers are around, there are monkey type noises associated with the chimping.

Sounds a little silly doesn’t it.

In the photography world it is usually used as an insult.  Afterall, once you have your camera settings set, you should be good to go and have no reason to constantly check your LCD screen.  Well, that’s not entirely accurate.  Maybe if you are working an event where the lighting is constant, there is no reason to chimp.  But, in the real world, especially dealing with high school sports, chimping may be necessary.

Even the pros chimp.  If you get the chance to watch college or professional basketball on TV, pay attention to the photographers on the endline, that’s the out of bounds line under the basket.  You will notice many, if not all, chimp.  I have even seen some pro photographers miss the action because they were chimping.

Now, there is one big reason to be careful with your chimping.  The action many times comes at you pretty fast and if you are not paying attention, you can get ran over or knocked to the ground by a running back or even a smashed in the face by a foul ball.  Ouch.  Bring on the doctor bills.  The physical pain can be bad but you also run the risk of damaging your equipment.  There goes your $4,000 Nikon lens and it looks like you need a new $300 monopod too.  Those and similar reasons are why you should at least keep your chimping to a minimum.

The “you will miss the action” reason is too absurd to even discuss unless you are shooting a high profile event.  Down in the trenches of high school, community college, and small university sports, you are not going to miss anything.  There will always be another great action shot just around the corner.

That being said, here are three reasons to chimp:

  1. Your editor needs x amount of photos by halftime.  In this instance you chimp after shots you think are keepers. You lock these so you can find and transfer them to your device for quick upload.
  2. Similar to above except you select one or two keepers to push out to your social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.  You put text on the photos directing people to your website for possible purchases.
  3. It’s fun.  Let’s admit it, it’s exciting to feel you got a great shot and then have it validated by your camera’s LCD screen.

It can be a zoo out there in the sports photography trenches.  Don’t let anyone intimidate or belittle you if you chimp.

It’s ok.  No, really, go ahead.  You know you want to.  So, what are you waiting for, do it.

Click, chimp.


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