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    • William

      I figure we have a pretty good group of photographers on Cake right now, so why dont we use this unique platform and have some intresting discussions about photography?

      I want to talk about an idea thats been bouncing around my head for a while: Photographic Restraint. When i say Photographic Restraint, I dont mean when to take the photo, but instead when to even take your camera with you in the first place!

      A little back story for clarification: When I first started learning photography, my (excellent) teacher told me that the quickest and best way to learn how to take pictures was to take my camera with me everywhere and have it ready to take pictures at a moments notice. He certiantly did it, his Leica's strap was glued to his shoulder as far as I could tell.

      So I did, and low and behold, I did improve. It honestly does help to have the camera with you at all times if you want to get better at photography. But after a while I started to notice something that bothered me: I was beginning to focus more on the camera and less on the world around me. I would go on these great trips but I wouldnt be exactly present. Instead of experiencing a place for myself, I would be futsing with my camera or setting up my tripod. I wouldnt be in the moment, expierencing where i was for my self. Instead I would be taking a picture so that I and others later could experience where I was vicariously through the pixels I collected.

      So I tried an expirement: I put the camera down. I stopped taking it everywhere with me, unless I had a specific, planned goal in mind of something I wanted to shoot. When it did come out of the case, it was a concious decision. I didnt take it on trips or vacations, and if I ever did bring my old Nikon it mostly sat in the case.

      Now what was the result of this expirement? Well, I must say I rather enjoyed it. I noticed it was easier to be present and enjoy where i was at, and I could pay more attention to enjoying myself. Sure, I might not have easy access to my camera, so i will miss some photos. But if I ever do absloutely need to take pictures my iphones right there ( It takes pretty nice photos, acutually ), and for everything else, i guess i'll just have to miss out on those photos. Its a price im gladly willing to pay!

      In fact, im about to embark on a 5 day trip to New York in a few days, and I'm happy to say my camera was nowhere near my packing list!

      So here comes the discussion bit: What do you think about the idea of Photographic Restraint? Do you take your camera with you everywhere? If not, when do you take it out?
      Do you find yourself spending more time on the camera than on the location, or do you have a strategy to minimise the camera's impact?
      Do you find yourself having difficulty enjoying vacations / trips because you spend too much time with your camera?

      Also, i figured i'd add a photo i took so i could demonstrate what i mean by a concious decision to use my camera. In this case, it was at a student music theathre show thing at the local community college. Tons of fun!

    • kevin
      Kevin Harrington

      Such a great conversation you’re starting, Will! I have so much to say, but I’ll start with this. I started the same way: camera with me everywhere and always taking photos. For the most part, I still operate like that on most of my adventures.

      In a former life, a coworker and I were sent to Iceland make a film about ice climbing. Going to Iceland was always a checkmark on my bucket list. For various reasons that trip changed my life, but it was not because of the Icelandic beauty I always dreamed to experience.

      I spent most of the trip looking into a view finder, piloting a drone, and managing gear. I had brief moments where I took in the scenes in front of me. But I never got a chance to sit, relax, experience the otherworldly landscape. I didn’t get to take it all in.

      I want to go back to Iceland to see the beautiful sunrises, the incredible volcanic formations, and the odd river erosion. To camp in nowhere. To 4wheel the F-roads. To meet locals in their hometowns. Think about the amazing stories I could tell with photos, videos or timelapses. But this time I want to go back without a camera, and if you know me that might sound preposterous. I never go anywhere without my camera gear.

      Without a camera I would take in 100% of the feeling of the cold air against my skin, the smell of arctic oceans, the sound of moving glaciers, and the rippling light of a gently moving stream. I could genuinely meet new friends without the camera barrier. I would be lightened of the 30 pound camera load I carry. I could frolic among the vast fields of gentle nordic ponies and run up volcanos. Media I bring back can’t replicate the feelings and experiences, not even for myself in the slightest not to mentions others who didn’t experience what I did. We don’t last long on this beautiful planet of ours, so why not experience it to its fullest on one trip?

    • Chris
      Chris MacAskill

      Ha! I am that guy who can never be without his camera. The one thing that's changed is the iPhone camera has become so good that I don't always feel the need for a bigger camera now.

      One very big thing for me is if something happens that needs a great photo, I kick myself forever for not having a camera. The second is the potential of a great photo keeps me always looking at all the nuances of what's going on, the moment, the light, the beauty, and I love being in that state. The third is I often look back at my photos and think "Thank God I brought my camera!"

      Finally, I have a reputation. I worked at a photography company. I have a motorcycle forum whose mantra is pics or it didn't happen. My family knows me as that guy you can count on to always be there with a camera. Can't let my reputation get messed up.

      Since I was 12 and my friends had hobbies like stamp collecting, I've always felt photography was the best hobby you could have. And with a real camera you can get the photos no one else can get.

    • cvdavis

      William I'm so with you on this one! I've discovered something of the same issue and for that reason I seldom take my camera out when I'm cycling, climbing or on a dirt bike trip. I say to myself I'm taking a picture in my mind. Actually I even tell my friend's I'm taking a picture in my mind and don't want it ruined by messing with my camera. I often think back to experiences I've had in my life and wonder if I would rather have the picture now or the memory of it. So far I'm sticking with the memory. It seems that social media puts more pressure on us to take the picture and forego the experience. We get a psychological boost when we get a like or hit or thumbs up on our posts so it makes sense that we'd want to have the best pictures possible. I personally find that my best scenic and memorable moments are almost always without the camera on. I think this will be 'solved' in the future when our whole lives are filmed through the lens of a camera - possibly one embeded in our contact lenses or glasses.

      Here's a weird one for you. As a former rock climber and extreme sport junkie I've taken to doing something rather quirky. I take what I call scenic pisses. lol It is what it sounds like. I'll stop at the most scenice spot imaginable and relieve myself while enjoying the amazing scenery. I started this while climbing a big wall years ago and the idea kind of just stuck. Now I do it when I'm out on long dual sport adventures, mountain bike or hiking trips. Any time I'm in a scenic location and there's no human traffic around I take a snapshot in my mind while going for a leak. I have found that the combination of the two things really works. You're forced to take your time and really take in the world around you. Sometimes I'm not sure if the good feeling in emptying my bladder or the euphoric feeling of the amazing world around me. I wonder if anyone else on the planet regularly does the same thing. I hope that idea isn't disturbing to anyone but the thought just kind of leaked out as I was thinking.

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