Taking pics vs. experiencing

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by cathmc, Dec 30, 2006.

  1. cathmc

    cathmc TPF Noob!

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    Although I sometimes set out for the sole purpose of taking pictures, often I am taking pictures because I am doing something/going somewhere interesting. So it's about documenting the experience and having something to show others about it - although I try to find interesting, original shots of things like famous landmarks, etc.

    Sometimes, though, I realize that I get so obsessed with trying to get a great photo, that I don't really experience the place or event. One good example was a whale watching trip. For a while I was just pointing the camera at the water, hoping to catch a perfect shot of an emerging whale. After about the 3rd time I failed to SEE a perfect view of an emerging whale b/c I had the camera pointed elsewhere, I decided I was primarily there to see whales, not take pictures of whales. A few minutes later a mama and baby whale came up right next to the boat. Didn't get a picture of it, but got to see the amazing sight for myself...

    I know there are lots of more serious photogs than me on this site and I'm wondering where different people draw that line between capturing great photos and experiencing the event or place you're photographing?
     
  2. Jazz

    Jazz TPF Noob!

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    cathmc - I understand just what you're talking about. I've completely given over to capturing images. If I happen to actually enjoy the moment without looking through the viewfinder, then I've screwed up and tell myself never do that again. Eventually, I've decided I get more enjoyment from capturing the moment than from enjoying it without a capture.

    I choose commitment to the potential of the image, which has its price (your friends stop talking to you after you stop noticing them because your mind is "in the basement" judging the light etc), but has its upside too. i.e. You might have nailed a great pic of a whale jumping, posted it, we would all say "whoa cathmc that's awesome!" Then you could print it nice and have it forever.
     
  3. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    When I set out with the intent to "take a good photo", I mostly come back home empty-handed. I find that you cannot force things. You can go out with your entire equipment, just so you'd be prepared, and you can BE prepared and even manage to get one or two or even a couple of good photos while being out, but you certainly cannot force that.

    When I go away, I am bound to have my camera gear on me as not to miss THE opportunity. And I sometimes feel as if - mostly so while being away - I begin to see "the world through an inner viewfinder", to look for "frames" - which as such is not too bad for it sharpes your eye for a motif.

    But I see how so dearly WANTING to get a good (preferably even perfect) photo of the whales put itself before your enjoyment of the whole experience. And maybe that is where amateur photographers such as you and I and all those who can only just take advantage of an upcoming opportunity but don't get paid in order to go out and WAIT for said opportunity have to sit back and admit that there can be more to life than THE PERFECT photo.

    (And I would still hope for it to arise out of a given situation, mind you!)
     
  4. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I agree completely. When I was a pro shooter, I would spend my vacation time looking for stock photos instead of vacationing. I finally stopped taking cameras with me on vacation. It works out well that way.
     
  5. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    My experience is, that I see a lot more when I take my camera gear with me. I then spend more time with the scenes/objects, landscapes which I capture on film or sensor. Therefore, my experience is much deeper and intense when taking pictures.

    That is, when I want to experience a landscape, a country, architecture .. if I want to RELAX however, then I leave my gear at home ;) But then, for me relaxing is best done at home anyway, vacation for me is to experience.

    HOWEVER, if you shoot at events, then things are different, you won't get much of the event, maybe even miss food and booze there, then you are fully occupied by the taking images business ... therefore events which really interest me stay undocumented by my cameras. I leave the documentation of those events to people who think it boring, they can better concentrate on taking pictures there ;)
     
  6. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    A lot will depend on your goals. I met up with a friend of mine in the Thousand Islands. We both really enjoy photography and decided to visit Boldt Castle with it being a photo trip in mind. I really enjoyed the experience of sharing each other's vision as we went through the place. Since it was a self-paced sight-seeing trip, the photography enhanced rather than interfered.

    For something like whale watching where everything is so transitory, if you have a hunk of metal and glass in front of your face, you can miss something, and it can distance you. You can't take your time, observe, and then decide to take a picture. It's one or the other. I'd much rather experience it and let others take the pictures. But again, it depend on the mindset at the start of the trip.

    Most of the time, I'm looking for certain kinds of images, not just making any good image I find. Once I have that camera in front of my face, my mindset is completely different, so I prefer to make a trip either a photo trip or not take any at all. I become an observer rather than a participant.
     
  7. CMan

    CMan TPF Noob!

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    When I was in Wyoming this summer, there were "pro" photographer types who would go to a certain spot every night and wait for wildlife to come there.

    We didn't do any of that, instead we just drove around looking at the scenery, and eventually we'd come upon wildlife and take pictures of it. It was funny, because we'd usually find some maybe a mile down the road from where all these photographers were waiting.

    If you sit around waiting for a shot to fall into your lap instead of just going out there, having fun, and shooting when the opportunity arises, then you've pretty much missed the point.

    I spent most of my vacation looking through a viewfinder or at an LCD, but I still had a really good time.
     
  8. astrostu

    astrostu Guest

    I think you have to choose the occasion, and that sometimes photography is a good idea and sometimes it's not.

    For example, I went to an art gallery today with my parents (we know the owner well, so photography wasn't an issue), and I brought my camera. My parents wanted to see the glass and talk with the owner, and I knew that I would get bored spending 45 minutes doing that, so me taking my camera was a good way for me to stay interested (and I got some neat shots).

    I went to the Denver Zoo to see their non-denominational holiday lights with some friends a few weeks ago, and I knew that many animals wouldn't be out and so it would mainly be a bunch of walking and looking at lights, so my camera was again a way for me to escape from that. As in a geology field trip, I can claim I'm documenting it as opposed to paying attention to the lectures.

    But for something like whale-watching, I probably would bring nothing more than a simple point-and-shoot, simply because it's a transient event, hard to capture, and it doesn't look nearly as captivating on a photographic image as it does in real-life. Same with Thanksgiving dinner.

    Another example: After going to a local botanical garden last week with my parents - the first time I've been there in years - I brought along my camera to take pictures and it wasn't the best of ideas because it was just too crowded (we went on December 26), so I couldn't take the time to frame my shots, and the low light level meant longer exposures and no tripod meant lots of blurry results. So for something like that, I should have just gone without a camera to enjoy it, and then gone back when it's less busy with a camera and tripod.
     
  9. abraxas

    abraxas No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I've always felt that some things are just for us- meaning those missed shots. If I leave the camera behind, those things don't seem to happen. I try not to worry about getting every shot, relax, and have a good time without obsessing. I'm learning to be a bit more selective. However, I need to be experienced enough to catch a great shot as a reflex. This is how I have the best time.

    When I'm at a family event; reunion, birthday party, holiday, etc. I leave the cameras at home. There are too many moments could I miss. Rarely do I do any photography. During those few occasions that I do shoot anything, I use someone else's point and shoot- and only for a couple of snapshots. Again, this is how I have the best time.
     
  10. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Whenever I'm visiting a new area for the first time I don't bother with a camera. As I experience the area, I do take mental notes of things of photographic interest. As I do this, my primary question is: do I want a print of this to hang on my wall at home?

    If there's a reason to go back and make prints, I revisit with the appropriate camera equipment. I already have a pretty good idea of time of day, lighting and the final print.

    In general, if the area contains things which are reasonably famous, I buy picture post cards rather than wasting time taking the same picture that others have taken -- under ideal conditions.
     
  11. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Sometimes I have to remind myself that's it's important to leave the camera behind and play with my kids, rather than photographing them playing.
     
  12. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    I have to agree with Jazz. I actually get more enjoyment with the viewfinder glued to my eyebrow. If I leave a beautiful place without a good attempt at photographing it, I'm upset. I always regret not bringing my camera equipment with me. That point of view is obviously not for everyone. Neither is coming home from said beautiful scene and spending 6 hours going through photos.
     

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