Monday, December 12, 2011

Not the wedding photographer

Last month we attended the wedding of some friends—not ones we see very often these days, but ones where we were invited to a relatively small ceremony. And as someone who has a photo blog, you'd probably think I would have brought my trusty Canon S3 to capture the festivities.

You would be wrong about that.

As we were almost about to walk out the door I grabbed the small camera (that we actually got to take the underwater shots from our Maui trip), but that was as much effort as went into having any camera with us. And when I actually did attempt a few shots during the ceremony, I quickly was alerted by a little symbol on the back display that the battery had not been recharged. Of course, from my position at the far end of about six rows back (against the wall) it's not like the few shots I got were coming out that well, so the battery dying likely was a blessing of sorts that kept me from bothering with more.

Sure, we have cameras on our phones, and those were charged, but a glance around the room showed there were no shortage of others (some with cameras and some with only phones) who were capturing the moment (and of course there were the professionals who were paid to do the best job of that).

There was something bordering on liberation I felt at not feeling compelled to take any photos. And not merely because I knew most of those shots taken from the seats during the ceremony tend to look like that's precisely what they are (there's a reason the pros aren't sitting in those rows but are mobile). Also, there's that whole aspect of being invested in being in the moment rather than observing the moment.

There was a time when not only at weddings but merely waking around I would have the (what we'll call) a bit of the photographer's eye, noticing what seemed like it would be a good shot. I'd carry my camera with me when I went to lunch in case such a moment arose. As admirable as that was at the time, there was an extent that it transformed life into the task of finding images rather than as a living, moving experience. Striving to capture that image becomes the point of any venture rather than the venture itself. And while that's fine when the venture is photography, for other times it's taking oneself out of the moment.

But more than that even, I think after a while I did reach a point where taking pictures came to be associated more with all the effort that comes after the shot in order to get the good ones selected and any processing done on the computer and posted with appropriate captions. It was effort to which I was committing myself.

And now I have the good sense to know better than to do that to myself when it's not necessary, and when it's not out of inspiration but out of obligation—obligation that I was the only one imposing on myself anyway.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is learn when it's okay not to even bother. Hobbies are supposed to be fun and enjoyable.


  1. That's smart, to sabotage any potential effort to press-gang you into service as a photographer, short of gouging out your eyes.

  2. It's interesting to go to an event -- like a public performance -- and be surrounded by people using cellphone cameras and small digital camcorders. I have to be careful, not to block someone's shot. If I'm really into an event from a photog's POV, I prefer to be one of the few recording it because it's hard enough not to block someone's view when they don't have a recording device.

    Two points that sum up the situation in other aspects: Being taken out of the moment as a recorder instead of being an observer/participant and a hobby becoming a job, not fun.

    One time someone saw me at an event I was covering for a friend. This person wanted to hire me for a family event. I tried to explain that I did photography as a hobby but she thought I was trying to dicker with her for pricing my services.

    Not everything is about money.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I removed a double post (in case you were wondering).


So, what do you think?