I can’t recall the last time I left the house without my phone. As it has a very competent camera on board, this means I haven’t left home without a capable camera for longer than I can remember.
Surely this fact, combined with my passion for photography, must mean that every journey I make is peppered with frequent stops to make photographs?
Well, no, for me photography doesn’t quite work like that.
Even though I have a camera with me nearly the whole time, I rarely use it in off the cuff and unexpected situations.
Partly because, unless you have your phone in your hand, camera app open and finger hovering over the shutter button, you’re not going to be quick enough to catch the kind of fleeting moments where people say “I wish I’d had a camera with me”.
The reality is likely that they did have a camera with them, they just didn’t have it poised to capture the scene before them with a split second’s notice.
For me, my photography is most effective and most enjoyable when I photograph deliberately.
This means going to a specific place with the specific intention of making photographs, and having whichever camera I’ve chosen for the trip set up and ready to shoot.
But more than this, deliberate photography means engaging the mindset and outlook that actively seeks beautiful frames to capture.
Deliberate photography, for me, is not about just sitting somewhere waiting and hoping that a scene worthy of a photograph might instantly unfold before my eyes.
It’s about hunting in every nook and cranny for the undiscovered and overlooked beauty in the minute details of the world around us, and capturing them with the release of the shutter.
None of this happens by accident.
I plan which camera to take, where to take it, and choose to have the mindset that will seek out photographs.
An important side effect of practising deliberate photography is that when I’m not, I’m free to wander (or cycle) around gazing as much or as little as I wish at the passing scenery.
I’m not consciously (perhaps sometimes almost anxiously) seeking out something to photograph. I’m freed from that expectation and sometimes unwanted burden of making photographs to prove I’m still making photographs.
Then, when I’m ready to return to that willing state of hunting, I again begin deliberate photography, more refreshed by the fact that my eyes and mind have not been constantly locked in deliberate photographer mode in the interim.
How about you? How deliberate is your photography? What do you do to seek out photographs that you’re proud to share?
Please tell us all about it in the comments below, we’d love to know (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography and cycling life looks like right now.
12 thoughts on “How Deliberate Is Your Photography?”
A few thoughts. First, I like to just go for a stroll with a camera and shoot whatever. I seldom get great photographs that way but I like the experience.
Second, I find that my best shots come when I explore something new. The excitement of the newness puts me in a great photographic frame of mind. I am more satisfied, however, when I find a great photograph in something I’ve seen and photographed many times as that means I’ve seen it anew.
Third, while I will take photos with my phone because it’s always there, I don’t like its usability as a camera and seldom seek it out as a photographic tool on its own merits. I’ve considered documenting an entire road trip with my phone to see how I like it; after all, every photo will automatically be geotagged that way and I won’t have do do it manually later.
Jim, very interesting thoughts, thank you.
Do you ever just go for a stroll without a camera, switch off your inner photographer and not look for things to photograph?
Yes I relate about photographing something familiar in a new way. I remember some months back I tried a challenge of taking 50 photographs in one room, within a limited time. It really encouraged me to crawl all over stuff (literally!) to find new angles and interest in objects I see every day.
Agreed about camera phones, I’ve tried to love mine – and it is a great device – but it always comes back to the form factor of a phone not being at all optimised to be used as a camera, and I’m relieved to return to a “proper” camera.
Interesting about the geotagging, I don’t really care much about that, but I can see it’s useful if you want to know/track where certain images were made.
Dan, my photography at the moment has become when I see something that I would like to photograph I get my camera or phone camera and take a shot. I was doing deliberate photography a few months ago and will do more of it when I need some fresh photos for my wallpapers on my lap top xoxo susanJOY
Thanks for your thoughts as always Susan. I have become a bit more like this in terms of the need to photograph – it’s been much less in recent months than in the past where I’ve taken photographs probably every day.
I like doing deliberate photography too. I tend to plan where I would like to take photos and what film camera(s) I would to use 👍
Hi Natalie, thanks for your input. Do you most often take one camera at a time, or two or more then decide which to use “on location”?
It depends on where I’m going and what type of photography style I want to do. If it’s local I may just take one camera but if I’m going further afield such as a recent trip to Highgate Cemetery, then I actually took three cameras with me for different types of photos….one was a 35mm half frame camera, another one was a Polaroid camera using some expired Polaroid film to get a sepia effect on the photos and the third one was a 120mm film camera 📷
And do you then shoot a roll with one, then a roll with another and so on? Or dip in and out with each camera, depending on the shot you want to get?
I used to try to take a couple of cameras at a time, perhaps with a different lens or film for each. But I just found it too scattered and distracting an approach. These days I prefer the simplicity of one camera and lens at a time so I can really immerse myself in the particular experience and view of the world that combo provides.
I shoot with one first. Then I’ll use the others. I may not always use all the cameras. It depends on the moment and whether I feel a photo is worth taking. I don’t tend to take a photo just for the sake of it. I knew with Highgate Cemetery there would be lots of things I would want to take photos of, hence the variety of cameras 👍
[…] know the cameras I have well enough to understand what they can do, when I do use them, it’s with deliberate intention, not just to rattle off some test shots or to make photographs to share to prove I’m still […]
[…] A photowalk I would define as any walk where you have the intention of deliberately making a photograph. […]
[…] of the most valuable of these, in the dozen or so years I’ve been photographing deliberately, is the form of meditation it […]