Leaving the Camera at Home

While checking out photography news stories today, I came across this advice article over at Digital Photography School about good habits for photographers to develop. Oddly enough, one of them was “leave the camera at home.” The more I think about it, though, the more this is a really good idea. Granted, if you’re a professional photographer or are going on a once-in-a-lifetime kind of trip, you should take your camera with you. However, if you’re going to a special event like a school play, a wedding, or a religious ceremony and you are not the professional photographer hired to photograph the event, then leave the big DSLR at home and satisfy yourself with a point-and-shoot instead.

Photography is becoming more and more common and the gear is getting better year after year. It’s also getting smaller and cheaper so that many novices today have access to equipment at under $200 that professional photographers fifteen years ago couldn’t even dream about owning. However, one area where a lot of novice photographers are lacking is in the area of photography etiquette. This can be an especial problem at weddings (amateur photographers committing all kinds of faux pas caused this article to be written. Read it. Some of the guest photographer’s behaviors are beyond cringe-worthy).

So, from time to time, consider leaving your camera at home. Yes, you should always be ready to capture a memorable image or event. However, if you’re going to a wedding or other milestone event and are not the one in charge of photographing it, try to find contentment in just being there as a witness. And, if you’re the kind of parent who lugs a high-end DSLR to every kid’s event, consider backing off and using a smaller, less obtrusive camera.

Photography is more than just capturing photos. Etiquette and politeness will go a long way towards helping you learn more about photography as well as potentially building a network for you to use if you ever wanted to transition from amateur to pro.

— da Bird