Back in my early days as a newspaper photographer, I always carried a shot sheet. As a photographer’s proverbial “to do” list, it was a constant reminder of the basic shots my editor wanted to see in the automotive section: three-quarter front, three-quarter rear, a badge shot, three-quarter interior shot, and an engine shot.


My editor at the time wasn’t a car aficionado, but rather saw them as effective transportation from point A to point B. He liked the basic shot sheet, and he could drop text and photos into a template without much worry. I, on the other hand, wanted to let the images tell the story. And so the shot sheet grew, with images segregated into “must have” and “want” sides of my notebook.

Soon, badge shots went from plain-jane manufacturer monikers to artful logos bathed in rain droplets; Sports cars were placed in the middle of abandoned roads, their dull and washed-out yellow dividing lines fading into oblivion behind the car; and the mandatory three-quarter front or rear shot started getting Dutch Tilt variations (by tilting the camera off to the side so that the shot is composed with the horizon at an angle to the bottom of the frame.)

As my shooting style developed, so did my shot sheet. Soon items like “cover” and “two-page spread” were the norm alongside “hard cornering, low angle” and “vehicle sliding sideways.”

Similarly, my Hawaiian images began to evolve as well. I grew tired of the “shot by the side of the road” look, and I began to trudge deeper off trail, foregoing overlooks for cliff sides and, well… going places many photographers would think twice about. My shot sheets started to worry my bride a bit with entries like, “Waianapanapa beach from east cliff,” “Wall of Tears – helicopter,” and “Polo Beach – fisheye at sand level.” The worry didn’t come from physical danger, but would the equipment survive.

Then one night a few months back, I was preparing a shot sheet for a short trip to Hana. The television was on in the background, the movie playing was The Bucket List. In short order, the shot sheet was sitting in my lay and I was engrossed in the movie, which started me thinking, “If a bucket list is what you want to do before you die, shouldn’t you really have a shot sheet of what you want to do while you’re alive?

So the Shot Sheet of Life started that night. Entry #1: “Develop closer relationships with family and friends.” Number 2: “Photograph more than nature…” By the time I got to number 28 and 29, “Drive a 1971 Lamborghini Miura SV” and “Try water ski racing again,” I was off the deep end.

Right now, I’m having fun with entry #1, calling old friends, emailing family and catching up on lost time. The list of people is long, and it won’t be completed overnight. It’s a work in progress. As is entry #2 – I’m taking more people pictures, and they aren’t half bad. It’s a little awkward for me, as I don’t like my picture being taken – something about having a lens shoved in my face. But with my point and shoot camera, the flood gates open! People, pets, buildings, you name it; I’m shoot it because I can, and it’s opened a new flood gate of creativity.

Of course, there are a couple of items on The List that are tough for me to do, like #14: “Watch the sunset without a camera,” or #6: “Turn the cell phone off on date night.” However, I’m looking forward to working on #18: “Capture the most beautiful sunset ever!” I may have to work on that one a lot.