Put Your Camera Down

August 26, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Do you want to get some of your best photos?  Do you want to tell a story with your photos?  Do you want people to wonder why your photos look so good?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then put your camera down for a few minutes.  Yes! Put your camera down.  Leave it in the backpack or set it on the ground.  Hear me out this really works.

I have listened to podcasts and watched YouTube videos from successful photographers that have a common thread.  The common thread is to not take photos right away.  There may be times when you will need to take a photo right away, but for the most part, follow this process and you will get better photos - I promise.

As I said in the previous paragraph, it is okay to break the rules.  This method is not a rule like the rule of thirds or leading lines or even framing.  If you don't follow this, no one will know.  But if you are looking to improve your photos then this is for you.   Do this!   

When you first arrive on the scene leave your camera in the backpack.  Actually, take off your backpack and set it on the ground so you can walk around freely.  Of course, don't leave your bag unattended where it could be stolen.  In those cases, leave the backpack on but don't open it.  Keep the camera in the bag.

If you read my tip from earlier this week you have an example of what I am talking about.  I didn't plan to leave my camera in my bag - and actually, I didn't.  But, I did follow the spirit of the method/rule not to concentrate on that one photo I was after.   All too often, I have a photo concept in my mind that I am wanting to capture and it causes me to miss other photos if I don't take my time.

So, far I have talking philosophy. So, let's talk about how to do this in specific situations.

  • Going on a hike to a specific spot for the epic shot at an overlook (or any landscape location).
    • When you arrive at your prized location.  Leave your camera in your backpack and sit down for five or ten minutes and pay attention to the environment around you.  Notice the birds or wildlife in the area if they are visible.  Look at the plants, flowers, and trees.  What looks interesting to that makes a good subject.
    • After your break, get up to walk around.  Leave your camera bag on the ground if you are able and feel comfortable leaving it there.  If you need to carry it, leave your camera in the backpack.  We are not ready to take photos yet.  Walk around and pay attention to how things change as walk around.  Try to get low and high to get different angles.  This reflection of the yellow lily was not visible until I laid on the ground.  You will be surprised at what you find by taking your time to try different angles and perspectives.  How long this takes depends on a lot of things, such as how much room do you have to move around or how busy the scene is.
    • Yellow Flower LIlyYellow Flower LIlyYellow Flower LIly
    • Is there something in the scene that you don't want in your photo?  Is trash in the scene that you can pick up?  If you see a water bottle or soda can or other trash, do your duty and pick it up and dispose of it.  That will remove it from your photo while also helping the environment.
  • Portrait Shoot
    • Similar to a landscape photo above you want to scout your area.  But do this without a client. If you have a location to do a portrait shoot, go there without your client and pay attention to the scene again for options that you may not have thought of trying.
    • Light is critical for portraits, so pay attention to the sun and where it hits the scene.  Is it better in the morning or the evening?

In summary, take in the area before you jump in and taking snapshots because if you just jump in and start clicking your camera's shutter button, you will get just that: snapshots.  We all can get those.  However, if you take in the scene and give it some time you will walk away with great photos.


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