As a photographer you have the distinct advantage over the rest of the population of seeing things that most don’t. Photographers notice the little things. We notice the way light gently caresses a landscape, or how shadows sprawl across a room, the symmetry of a building, and every day juxtapositions. Photographers spend each day looking for interesting scenes and composing in their mind like a painter at an easel.
You’ll rarely find me without a camera in my pocket or around my neck, ready to go in an instant, when I’m out and about. Recently, I’ve been using a Leica M7 and iPhone as my walking around cameras while reserving the Leica M262 and Nikon D810 for my professional work. If you start taking a camera everywhere you go I can promise your photography will increase and improve greatly.
The image at the top of this article was taken on my way to my primary destination. I was driving over this old rickety bridge when I saw the low hanging fog and a slight pull off after the bridge. I did what any curious photographer should do and pulled off, walked down the path, and took the shot. I recently read a book called It’s Not About the F-Stop by Jay Maisel and he and I share similar feelings on passing up good shots… Don’t. Never keep going with the intention of getting it next time or on your way back through. A large percentage of the time you’ll never make it back or if you do it will never look the same. It may look better or worse, but never the same.
This shot, you may recognize it from a previous article, was taken on my way to get coffee one morning while on vacation. I was driving down the road and saw this low hanging fog in a field behind a gas station. Once again, I pulled into the gas station and did what every curious photographer would have done… I jumped a fence and walked around until I could isolate this tree with the beautiful sky in the background.
Another great example of the journey being just as important. I had grand aspirations of shooting the Roosevelt Island cable cars in NYC but didn’t get anything worth keeping. After about four hours of shooting I decided to grab a cab instead of walk back to my hotel room. As soon as this guy pulled up I knew I would have to photograph him. I asked if he would mind if I took some photos through his front windshield as he drove and he was a good sport. I kept talking to him to get him to turn his head so I could get the light to hit just right and capture this shot. I’m pretty sure he knew what I was up to but I tipped him very well and he seemed pleased.
This shot was taken while walking back to my car after meeting a friend for dinner. I always bring a camera with me when I’m meeting up with friends, some of my oldest friends can’t even remember a time when I didn’t have a camera with me. They are all good sports and don’t mind (or at least don’t say anything to me) that I stop constantly take various shots. Some will even ask things like “so what made you take that shot” and I will share with them what it was that caught my eye.
Another image I took while meeting another friend for dinner. As always, I had my camera in my work bag (a leather messenger bag). As we were walking by I glanced back and saw the woman with the bright red lipstick in the bright red car and asked my friend to wait just a moment while I take a shot. I turned around casually, walked back to where she could not see me, pulled out my camera and cranked up the ISO so I could get this shot. As I took the shot she looked up at me with her cell phone painting her face in its electronic glow… Perfect. I turned around and my friend and I turned the corner.
He was amazed I took the shot while she was staring at me and wondered if I ever get myself into trouble. The short answer is no. And I simply told him that I’m not going to miss a once in a life time shot because someone might get a little perturbed. The camera I had tucked away in my bag? A Nikon Df. Not the smallest but certainly not a huge camera. I think the lens I used was an old Nikon 35mm f2D.
I’ve lost count of how many good photographs I’ve gotten by simply taking my camera everywhere. What I have noticed is that often my good shots were taken on the way to or from my final destination. Take your camera everywhere, shoot everything you’d like, and make no apologies. You get one life to live so why not make the most of it. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.