How GoPro Made Me a More Patient Photographer

I’m fortunte enough to get a ticket for tonight’s XX+UX Happy Hour, hosted by GoPro with This got me thinking about how I use GoPro equipment and how I’ve developed as a photographer.

I primarily shoot still photos for events and portraits. There were many moments that I couldn’t capture because of risk to equipment or space constraints. The attraction of GoPro cameras is that they mount just about anywhere and are durable. I bought a GoPro Hero 4 Silver and a Session camera to test what they could really do.

While both capture HD quality video, they differ in physical size. The Hero 4 Silver retains a small, rectangular shape that has been with GoPro since the original version. The Session camera is more compact cube shape, with a trade-off of fewer features. The Hero 4 Silver is my go-to for quality and the Session handles many of the point-of-view (POV) shots.

What does video have to do with still photography?

Planning. I’m more of a photojournalist when it comes to photography, I shoot what is available in front of me. When it comes to video, I really had to plan ahead and visualize that I want the outcome to be. This is especially true with timelapse videos and recording interviews. In essence, I’m more consciously visualizing the scene and adjusting my gear to obtain the results I want.

Patience. Timelapse videos can take some time, up to 2 hours (mainly limited by battery life) and the camera can’t move. Timelapse videos at night have an additional constraint where I have to be aware of light sources that can affect the overall scene. As strong as the urge is to check the camera or the camera app, I must resist. In many ways, this is a throwback to developing film in a darkroom back in the day.

One of the few sharp photos from a night timelapse.

The other part of patience is waiting for the results. The Session doesn’t have a display. The display on the Hero 4 Silver isn’t always visible with the protective case. While I can preview both with the iOS app, the most accurate results come from a laptop or desktop. Knowing I have to wait enables me to experience the same environment that I’m recording.

Empathy. To configure my equipment, I need to see how it’ll look with a human subject. In most cases, I’m the subject. With interviews, I want the equipment to be the last thing I worry about. After a few run-throughs, I’m comfortable with the equipment setup and how my interview guest will feel in the same spot in front of the cameras.

Scene from GoPro set-up and testing

What’s next?

Adding GoPro cameras to my equipment has changed how I view the world. I’m still learning about all the settings and what is possible when it comes to video. I’m looking forward to creating videos that tell a story and immerse the audience with the experiences I’m fortunate enough to attend.

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