Why You Shouldn’t Keep A Camera On You At All Times


How many times have you heard this? You should carry your camera at all times. The rationale, of course, is sound. You never know when something amazing is going to happen right in front of your eyes. You may well miss the shot of a lifetime because your beloved camera is sitting on a desk at home.

Let’s now take a step back from that rationale and ask another question. Answer it honestly. How many times has something jaw droppingly amazing happened in front of you? I am talking here about the unexpected, not something that was planned or foreseen. Probably not very often I would wager. Here’s the thing, even if you did have your camera, would you have been able to power it up, raise it and compose before the said event was over? Today I am going to suggest some reasons why you should not take your camera with you at all times. That's not to say you should never take a camera, we are photographers after all. What I am suggesting is that we should be more selective about when we take our cameras out.

Here’s the thing, even if you did have your camera, would you have been able to power it up, raise it and compose before the said event was over? Today I am going to suggest some reasons why you should not take your camera with you at all times. That's not to say you should never take a camera, we are photographers after all. What I am suggesting is that we should be more selective about when we take our cameras out.

Loss of Social Interaction

How often have you watched people ignoring their partners, friends or family whilst checking the latest update from TwitFace on their smart device? Do you realise many of us photographers do the same thing? If a day out is meant to be with family and friends, try to keep it that way. By carrying a camera with you will you are opening yourself to all the distractions that your creative mind can muster at the expense of your friends. Carrying a camera whilst out with out non photographic friends can be incredibly selfish. We stop, we wander off the chosen path and worst of all we ignore the people we are supposed to be interacting with.

Do you ignore friends when shooting? By x1klima

Lack of Inspiration

We lose our inspiration when the when we fail to see the beauty in the everyday. If we are constantly trying to capture the everyday with our cameras, there is going to be a point where very little will inspire us, even if that thing is very beautiful or photogenic. The problem is that if we take a camera all the time, we desensitise our eye to the world around us. Try walking the same route every day for several days without a camera. On the last day take that camera. You subconscious mind will have been absorbing the creative possibilities on those previous days mainly because you were not actually shooting them.

Shooting everyday could become dull. By John Loach

Taking a Rest

There comes a point in any hobby when you just don’t want to do any more. Photography is no different. When picking up that camera and shooting becomes just a reflex action, its time to take a rest. Of course taking a rest does not have to mean a complete break from photography, just the taking aspect of it.

You could put your rest time to good use by studying some new photographic techniques or perhaps catching up editing your backlog of images. Taking a break is a very healthy thing to do in photography. It refocuses our desire to take photographs and reignites our creativity.

Photography is as much about education as it is shooting. By Alpha

Boosting Our Creativity

Its impossible to be creative 100% of the time. By taking a camera with us wherever we go we are in fact trying to force our creativity. This is something that you should never do. Creativity comes when we are most relaxed, most focused. It works best when we do not put undue pressure on ourselves to be creative.

Leaving the camera at home will not stop your creativity, it may however enhance it. This is because we will be seeing the world entirely through our eyes and not a viewfinder as well. Just looking at things without the urge to shoot them can open up many new creative possibilities for when we do return with our cameras.

Boost your creativity by looking not shooting. By Thomas Rousing

Use a Smart Phone

Of course even when we don’t take a camera with us, we very often do. That's in the form of a smart phone. Today’s phones make excellent cameras for everyday shots. If, you find that you cannot or will not leave home without a camera, take a smart phone instead. It may well be enough to sate your photographic appetite while maintaining your inspiration and creativity. You also won’t be the “professional photographer” when you are out with your friends and family.

You are probably already carrying a camera. By Susanne Nilsson

Photography is a wonderful, creative pursuit. However like anything, we can get desensitised to it’s wonders. Taking a camera everywhere you go is an easy way to do that. Whilst there is the slim possibility that the most incredible scene may infold in front of you the day you don’t take the camera, the chances are small. What may happen if you do carry the camera at all times is a slow, imperceptible erosion of your creativity and inspiration.

About Author

Jason has more than 35 years of experience as a professional photographer, videographer and stock shooter. You can get to know him better here.

I love this article. Everytime time I am out driving and see something great, I admonish myself–“oh! Should always have your camera! Too bad you missed that shot!”…And, Jason is correct–the pursuit and dream of the image is exciting–if I always had my camera I would miss that–looking forward to the everyday and forgetting to be actually present. Thanks, Jason, very much for this new perspective. 😀

Jason, I take a slightly different approach.
I’ve been taking photos for so long now, that my head is kind of hard wired into appraising what I see as a “photo opportunity” – can’t help it now, it’s just become how I see the world. Obviously I DON’T photograph everything I see, but it is how my head looks at things. So it really makes very little difference from a creative point of view, whether I do or don’t have a camera. The difference is simple – if I don’t, and a once in a lifetime opportunity presents itself, I miss out.
So I’ve taken to carrying a smaller cam (a Canon PowerShot) with me – pretty much always, or anyway most of the time. It’s NOT a smart phone – for me, a phone is a thing you make phone calls on and if you want to take photos, you use a camera. It’s not a serious competitor with my main cam either – but it takes damned good photos, regardless. Pocket cams don’t have a suitable sensor for my purposes, but the PowerShot does and there are now plenty of other cams of a similar small size that would suit.
This is a sort of half way outcome – I avoid “missing the shot” altogether – and if it’s an opportunity for a really serious photo, the PowerShot captures practically all the information I need to go home and plan to shoot the scene properly, with my main cam. I get a record of the scene – meta data which helps me sort exactly how to take the shot, and what gear I want for it – the chance to appraise the weather & lighting conditions I will be looking for – in short, a properly planned approach to taking the “real shot”. I’m afraid that not taking the cam with me, wouldn’t do it for me.
But of course this is one of those “each to their own” things, and everyone’s different. Thank goodness – LOL.
And your point is well made – when I see a cruise ship disgorge its human cargo here (I live only a mile or so from the passenger terminal at our local port) and they wander around photographing everything in sight before they have to return to the ship, I sometimes shudder watching how they go about taking photos. So often, there’s no planning – no thought – just a plague of instant snapshots of virtually nothing of real interest, to liven up an evening back home, later, displaying it all on a TV or whatever.

PS – I did as your article suggests, once, Jason – on my first trip to Europe – had the camera with me, but never took any photos with it in the whole 3 months I spent there (except for about 3 shots I took while I made a short dash to London to catch up with a friend there) – and came back with my head full of the things I had seen, all neatly stored away in my memory.

I am on a slightly different issue first.
I know this does not happen to you frequently, or may be this is an exception or may be somebody over there was having a below par day; but I noticed that this post has several grammatical errors. Just a gentle protest. Don’t take it to heart.
As to the topic, I agree with most of what you say. But as Jean Pierre says, the mind keeps discovering photo opportunities.
Thanks for the article. Now I wouldn’t feel guilty if I do not carry my camera with me sometimes!

Interesting to look at it this way. So many times I have wished I had my camera because I was being faced with something that would really make a cool shot, but on the other hand, even if I do not make the shot at the time, I find it fun to be able to see what the common people always overlook and I think of it as a sort of training of my eye.

I agree with the point of having a small decent camera that is easier to carry at all times though, it is not always possible for me to try to catch all these special moments, because of the type of work I do, but I really think that we should do everything possible to take THAT shot, since as we all know, that little moment of time is unique and will never happen again 🙂

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