We love to shoot. It's a passion and we certainly don't do it often enough. We tend to want to just start shooting away as soon as we have someone playing and posing in front of our camera. It's a natural instinct.
Then we get back to the computer and upload the images. We go through them and often think...if we'd payed attention to all those needles in the snow we might have cleaned them up before laying her in the middle of them to shoot. Or if the light had been just a little more to the left and down her eyes would have really popped. It's to late. Sure, some of the shots are going to be fine.
This is when you have to ask yourself...is FINE what I was after? I hope not. I doubt you are reading this is average is what you are after.
I have a habit of stopping often and just standing there and looking at the model, the lighting, and the overall setting. Yeah, it's a little odd and I usually tell the model to relax while I think this through. After all, I don't want them to think I'm just staring at them and they are awaiting direction from me at this point.
So, stop. Set the camera down. Look at the light, where it's coming from, how it will hit the model, and envision what the end shot will look like.
Envisioning the end shot is the hard part, at least at first. Once you have experience you can look at something you take right on the back of the camera and have a fairly good idea of what you can do with it. I've found more and more I look at a picture and get excited about the possibilities of the shot when everyone else looks and doesn't see what I see. Often my finished shots don't look very close to the original so in my case it's even more important to look and imagine what I can do with it. So, it's slightly more important to get it right...to take my time. Unless the sun is going down there's time.
Don't get into the 'spray and pray' mode of shooting. If you have a model that poses well from shot to shot, get everything working right and then let him or her go through 6-12 of their expressions and then stop. I do often show them the first test shots to let them know what the lighting is like and how to angle their heads the best to take advantage of the lighting. Then let them play as you shoot. Those will be great shots.
So, take your time. Enjoy being creative. Train your eye to look at the shot in the view finder for a while before hitting that shutter button.
One thing I've done, even in the studio, is to wear the R strap with my camera. Then, when I want to think, talk with the model, whatever, the camera is at my side. And it's not far away in those rare and fun moments in time when a perfect shot hits you in the face and you need to get it quickly.