All of us DIYP writers and readers are photographers and/or filmmakers, right? So, why on Earth would we ever want to stop capturing the world around us? Well, no matter how much you love photography, there are situations when you just shouldn’t take photos. When is it best to leave your camera in your bag? I’ll discuss some of these situations in this article and I hope you’ll agree with me, at least up to a point.
Before I start, I believe it’s important to point out that it’s different if you’re paid to take photos. In this case, of course, it’s your job to take them. But, in all other instances, I believe these are the moments when you should forget about your camera.
1. When someone needs help
Ever since camera phones became popular, people have filmed and photographed those in need of help instead of doing something to help them. Sadly, many people do it to mock others (shame on them), and photographers often use the moment to get some powerful images.
But even if your intentions are good, if you want to make some impactful photos and then give a helping hand – skip the photographing part. When someone’s in pain or asking for any kind of help, forget about your camera and do what you can to help them. Of course, if you’re paid to cover tragic events, you should take some photos. But sometimes even in these situations, the photographers choose to help instead of taking pictures.
2. During personal moments
Here, I’m talking about both your own personal moments with the people you love, as well as other people’s intimate moments.
When you are sharing deep thoughts, feelings and impressions with someone, don’t ruin it by taking out your phone or camera and capturing it. I know you want to save the moment, but if you’re dedicated to it 100%, it will be saved in your memory and heart way better than it would be on camera.
When it comes to other people’s personal moments, it’s like getting into someone’s private “bubble” with your camera. For example, you see a couple looking into each other’s eyes, smiling, being all beautiful and deeply in love. You may want to capture the wonderful scene, but maybe it’s better not to. You may ruin the moment, and it’s kinda like stealing it from them. Yes, I know: if you saw them, it means they’re in a public place and they can’t expect privacy. But still, they have their own micro-world, and your lens has no place inside it. Photographer Aleksandra Milinkovic describes one of these personal moments on her blog, and you can read about it here.
Now, there could be some exceptions to this. There were cases when someone accidentally photographed an engagement and the couple was thrilled. There are moments that are personal but happen once in a lifetime so it’s wonderful to have a photo of them. I can’t go on forever with the examples and exceptions, but I believe your gut will tell you when it is okay, and when it isn’t. Just pay attention to it.
3. In the theatre (or cinema)
Again, if you’re paid to take photos of a play or performance, go for it. But if you are a part of the audience, please leave your camera in your bag. The clicking of the shutter and the light of the flash or LCD screen distracts both the audience and the actors. So instead of taking photos (or god forbid, selfies), put your camera down and enjoy the show.
4. At concerts
This is something I can relate to. As a matter of fact, it’s what inspired me to start writing this article in the first place.
It happens all the time – the band shows up on the stage, and suddenly, everyone’s phones are up in the air. Very few people let the music take over. Instead, they take photos and videos, prevent themselves from enjoying the moment, and block the view for others.
I admit, I’m guilty of taking photos at concerts and posting them to Instagram, so I can keep track of the dates when I attended. But, I take one photo right after the beginning of the concert, then put my phone in my bag and just enjoy the show. At some of the best concerts of my life, I didn’t take a single photo. But I still remember them vividly and smile when I think of them.
Of course, if you’re a concert photographer, shoot away. That’s why you’re there, and you know how to behave so you don’t ruin the show for others. But if you’re only there to listen – for god’s sake, just listen! You won’t look those photos and videos again, anyway.
As I said, while most of us want to capture as many special, meaningful or impactful moments as we can, sometimes we should just skip it. I don’t think things are either black or white, there are many shades in between. But, I believe these are examples of situations when your camera should be left at home or in a bag. And if you think you should take the photo after all – be moderate, kind and respectful.
Now tell me, do you agree these are the situations when the camera should be left behind? Would you add any situations? Feel free to share your thoughts and to agree or disagree with me. I’m looking forward to hearing what you guys think.
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