Published in


Kaari Peterson

Dec 10, 2021

5 min read

How concert photographers taught me to be a better researcher

The hidden lesson I’ve learned watching photographers at concerts by Taylor Swift, David Bowie, Rhianna, and others

Photographers typically approach the shoot in two ways: “Spray and Pray” and “Planned.”

Two photos side-by-side: Paul Stanley of the band “Kiss”and members of the band “Dirty Honey”
This is what it looks like when standing behind concert photographers. On left: Paul Stanley of Kiss. On right: Members of Dirty Honey. Photos by Kaari Peterson.

Our jobs as researchers mirror those of concert photographers: sometimes we follow a meticulous research plan, while other times we might execute with a “Spray and Pray” approach, embracing openness and improvisation in our session.

When should you “Spray and Pray”?

“Spray and Pray” example: UX Researchers

“Spray and Pray” isn’t for amateurs.

“Spray and Pray” example: Photographers

Matt Gentling, Band of Horses. Photos by Paige Parsons @paigekparsons

When doing “Spray and Pray” research, rely on tried-and-true models and processes.

A break-down of my “Spray and Pray” research

My questions were based on the high-level Objectives given to me by a Product Manager. Here’s an example of what that looked like:

An intentional practice