Numbering is like counting, although numbering has an interesting ambiguity: it may occur before or after event takes place. In the case of photography the medium is descriptive of units of work. For medium format, this is typically 10, 12 or 15 frames. As a unit of measurement, I don't know if there is any advantage to thinking in terms of a roll of film, but I have noticed that creative imagination is altered in some profound ways by numbering and grouping the angles and shots you will take advance.
Underlying any skill we acquire, such as woodworking or plumbing, includes some split-second responses, but often the noticeable effect of experience is that one has learned to move with a greater apparent sense of ease. I have heard many times that picking up a film camera helped someone "slow down". I think what people mean by this is that the film camera interrupted a habit of working in an undirected way.
The change is mental, but camera also changes the way set yourself up for a scene. A camera with a straightforward design allows you to set everything up in an orderly way.
Make it Count
Along with the number of frames, the time allotted to a session has an impact. If I only have 30 minutes with someone, I need a workflow, and this doesn't happen by hitting the shutter button frequently. The strategy I use under time pressure is to write out the changes between each shot:
- lighting or background
- change of apparel or accessories
- introduction of props
Changing location resets all of these parameters.
I have noticed that a time-limited session enables me to convey a higher degree of confidence that is also inspiring to the subject. When you know what steps you will move through, capturing a beautiful representation of someone in 12 frames is achievable. Watching the frame counter feels oddly reassuring, and may even provide an entertaining point of dialog during the shoot.