Do you ever find your camera ruins the moment?


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Jun 17, 2005
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Irvine, Orange County, CA
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Does anyone else feel like their camera ruins the moment? Being a grad student I don't have a lot of cash and saved up for my digital slr but I am also wishing I had a nice point and shoot. Nothing seems to ruin the moment faster then me whipping up my huge camera during social events/parties to take a shot. Folks don't think twice about the small point and shoots and yet freeze up when I grab my camera. Sucks having a nice camera but needing to go buy another just so I can take some fun shots with friends and what not (plus a slr isn't the most compact).

So I was just wondering if others have had this problem or not (and what they did to fix it =p)
Interesting post. It's been my experience that a non-photographer views an SLR user as more of a professional instead of a casual photographer so maybe in social settings it's a lot more obtrusive because of that association.

Not sure how I'd try to avoid that. Maybe keep the camera out and visible so that people don't react to it as drastically or use a zoom lens so that you can get pics of people without them seeing the camera.

I'm sure someone has some good advice for this and I'd love to hear it myself.
My friends and family know what kind of camera I carry around, so that's not really a problem.
I know what you mean though. I like to take photos in places where it's not really appropriate to take photos with a big shiny professional looking thng. Like in pubs and so on... I usually hide my DSLR under a coat, or place it on a table and hit the button while looking somewhere else. Or I borrow my wife's little digital point and shoot ;-)
You'd be surprised how much you can do without anyone noticing anything though... people tend to be too occupied with themselves anyway instead of noticing you if you just sit quiet in a corner hiding behind a beer :)
yeah all the time... ive decided i need a compact i think im getting one of those pentax ones.. incredible for macros too!
Get them when they're not looking. If you have a dSLR, you can use that to your advantage if you use an add-on flash with it. For example, I know that the 420EX, 430EX, and 550/580EX flashes all have focus assist beams that project a crosshair pattern in the shape of a "+". You can use that beam to help you aim while "shooting from the hip" (which works best using a wide angle lens). A lot of the time, if you bounce the flash, people won't realize you just took a picture of THEM.
I personally like those candid shots better anyway, they can show someone's natural state, and you can get some pretty funny looking faces.
Sometimes, but people that know me are used to my camera, and in other situations, I try to hold it in a very casual and disarming manner. I can't really describe it, but it usually works well. If you are intense when you are shooting, people are going to notice you.
Leica with a 35mm lens... or any other rangefinder. You can get one for less than 50 bucks easily.
Kent Frost said:
True indeed. Telephoto works well in these situations.
Get em from across the room, and they'll never know it.

To tell you the truth, it doesn't work as well as you might think. Telephoto from across the room sometimes leaves you with a "flat" photo with little intimacy with the subject. Its kinda hard to explain... believe me I'm no expert.. I'm still trying to get over the hesitation I have over taking pictures of people. Anyways, it leaves that "paparazi" spy/telescope feel to the photo... you loose some of that "depth". In a crowded room, its impossible.. someones head or body part is bound to be in your way. Once people notice you with that long lens you change how everyone in that room behaves rather than just blending in.
Although, a telephoto will make a somewhat crowded room seem even more crowded. If you can get a good enough distance away and then take a photo of a crowd, it brings everyone closer together and makes the population of the room seem more dense.
There was this one bar that a bunch of my friends used to meet every week. In the back of the bar in perfect view of everyone is a flight of stairs going to an unused second floor. I used to get about halfway up the stairs and shoot across the room and down at about a 5-10 degree downward angle. Made for great party photos of everyone in the room all the way up to the front door.
I'm starting in this new world of photography, but what you're saying is something that I feared when I first started taking photographs on the street.

If you're taking photographs of a person, try to get close, if you see that he/she is uncomfortable, don't take any photograph and leave.
If you see that he/she isn't uncomfortable, get close, stay for some time, he/she might even start talking to you, or maybe you.
Wait some time, and when you see that he/she is comfortable, start taking the photographs.
You might also have a nice chat, and learn new things from them. ;)

This also happened in the band were I play, when I first took the camera out of the bag I felt like I was going to get killed.
Now they "know" my camera and I can take photographs without that feeling.

If you're shooting a group of people that you know, they'll get used to it, and also try to show them the photographs that you've taken, so they'll want you to come back to take more shots. :)
Well, I have one very CLOSE friend who has known me for almost 7 years now. He KNOWS I love photography, he KNOWS I have the cameras and he KNOWS I like to take photos of events and the people who come to or take part in those events.
Only last Saturday there was another of those situations.
Another person took photos with a tiny digital P+S. No one looked.
I took out my 350D with the 70-300mm lens mounted, hid in a corner and tried to get candid shots. Worked with most. Some, I realised, were aware of being in my frame but did their best to pretend they had NOT noticed. So far so good.
Now this friend ... ducks, hides, puts up his arm. I try to get a good pic of him, no way. So I try more than once (his fault, eh?) ... he calls through the length of the room: "Corinna, can I at last move as I please without being hassled by your camera lens?"
Oh dear.
Yes. Sometimes a big camera ruins the situation all right ... and the telephoto lens did not help things any, either. Not with that guy.

I have sworn to myself that from now on and forever, whenever we have an outing together or do things together, the photo series will pretend THAT GUY wasn't even there.

And if he should order a STUDIO SHOT from me, I would refuse to take his photo!

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