My missing photodocumentary

I have a nice camera. It’s easy to use, takes good pictures (after a couple of repairs, sigh), and it’s very portable. So portable, in fact, that I could take it places I go, and when I’m there I could take pictures with it.

Yet my flickr account runs dry, other than the wedding and honeymoon, and the odd picture here and there where I happen to be playing with the camera anyhow. This isn’t new. Even before flickr I rarely took pictures except on vacations and similar major events. Even then I take fewer at local events than I did then.

But I can’t help but think that I’m missing out. Flickr’s community functions alone look like a lot of fun, and I enjoy looking back through the photos I do have, of Montreal and Vancouver and hurricane skies and Christmases and old offices and so on. And I have at least a passing interest in the “pretty pictures” or “art photography” side of things, or some point in between those two. On the other hand, I’ve always felt that taking (too many) pictures means you end up being so busy documenting things that you miss experiencing it.

So, two new things to try: I need to start carrying my camera with me when it’s not ridiculously cold out, and I need to use it when I have it with me. But I don’t think that’s enough, or else I probably would have figured this out a while ago. A bunch of you folks are prolific photographers — any tips or advice on getting life on “film” without becoming The Guy With The Camera?

(At the rate I’m going, I’m going to have some resolutions for 2007. Huh.)

6 responses to “My missing photodocumentary”

  1. This might or might not be of use to you, but IME in Ottawa (and elsewhere in Canada), the best way to avoid being a Nosy Person with a Camera is to get a really good quality zoom lens, one that will take a head-and-shoulders shot at about 10 metres.

    My technique with this was to either set up the aperture and shutter speed beforehand (if I knew I was going to take a photo of a particular thing), or to rely on the automatic settings (not so big a deficit, what with Photoshop for readjusting light levels) and then ‘shoot from the hip’ as it were. I.e. I would snap off the shot as quickly as possible and immediately get the camera back to a neutral position.

    There’s an appropriate speed for this. Too quick and you’re a shifty individual who’s not to be trusted, too slowly and you’re the Guy with the Camera. If you do get caught in the act, a self-deprecating smile and a quiet thank you will often get you off the hook.

    Interestingly, having a big-ass camera with a ‘mine is bigger’ lens actually makes people more acquiescent, as they’re inclined to assume that you’re a professional. Why this makes it okay is still not clear to me, but there you have it….

  2. One more thing:

    Take two – they’re small. People often relax visibly right after you’ve taken their photo, so taking two shots about 1 second apart is enough to get a really relaxed, far-less-posed photo.

  3. i have a camera with me at all times. the one i carry the most is a little olympus with a 10X built in zoom. it’s great for shooting out the car window while stopped at lights, etc. i sometimes just keep it in my car so i don’t forget it. i’ll be darned if every time i do i miss a great shot.

    good luck! i don’t mind being the crazy lady with the camera. i’ve never had anyone get mad or annoyed at me. :D

  4. If you’re a guy with a camera, it’s hard not to be the Guy With The Camera. My guidelines:

    Have a small, fast camera that you can take anywhere.

    Have children. THEY LOVE having their pictures take.

  5. Carrying the camera is good. The other thing is going on photo expeditions. Pick a free day and a project (bars, a weird part of town, signs, candids) and go do it. It’s fun and you get practice.