Do you ‘wear’ your camera?

What the heck kind of post is this? Bear with me me and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Perhaps the biggest challenge I hear many of our friends talking about when it comes to their chosen art is that they struggle to find time to practice their photography.

The real problem though is that so many of us don’t have our camera with us when the photographic opportunities present themselves (I really hate bringing my camera with me everywhere I go because not only do I bring my camera, but usually all my lenses, flashes, and filters-which can be burdensome). Instead that camera sits at home in a little bag that is full of well researched but rarely used gear.

But even when we take our camera with us it often remains in that bag.

I recently was reading Thorsten Overgaard’s site  where he makes the statement that photographers  should always ‘wear their camera’. He wrote:

“Things happen when you wear your camera. You get to see things and document them.”

By ‘wearing’ your camera Thorsten advocates actually having out of your bag, over your shoulder, switched on and ready to go at all times. Here’s how he explains it:

“I say “always wear a camera,” and by that I mean that you have your camera over the shoulder, turned on, set to the right ISO and white balance. And then you look for things. If you do this, you will feel as a photographer, be aware of the viewpoint of the lens you have on the camera and start seeing photographs. And when you see something, you have to have a built-in reflex to slightly touch the release button so as to turn the camera from sleep mode to shooting mode; and by the time the camera has reached it’s place in front of your eye, it is powered up and ready. All you have to do is focus and shoot, then drop the camera so it falls back to its place by your hip.”

I know that in this particular article  he is talking about his Leica Rangefinder Camera, but I think that it applies to anyone who has a love for photography.   I love the concept of ‘wearing’ your camera and have been experimenting with it myself this week. Instead of taking my camera in a bag with me (something I have done for many years) I’m now going to try to wear it over my shoulder more and it will have an impact in three ways:

1) Feeling like a photographer

Ok, I am a professional photographer, so why do I need to remind myself by wearing one? Well, the way I see things, what we wear impacts us in so many ways. When I go to a soccer match and wear my jersey, I feel like  a soccer fan more than I do when I am at church wearing my Sunday best. Or when I head into a client meeting, I feel more professional when I wear dress slacks and a collared shirt than I do when I wear shorts and a t-shirt.

And having a camera at my side at all times puts me ‘picture taking zone.’

2) It impacts those around you

What we wear influences what others think about you. Numerous studies show us that people form lasting impressions of us based upon our clothes (among other things) and that we’re treated differently as a result. My observations this week are that ‘wearing’ a camera can similarly impact how others treat you. I’m not completely sure of how to describe other people’s reactions yet – perhaps I need a little more time at this – but there have been some interesting ones.

  • In one instance I was invited to photograph a situation because I had my camera out.
  • In another instance the camera opened up a fascinating conversation which led me to ask permission to photograph the person.
  • In another situation (with kids) having the camera out from the beginning of our interaction seemed to make it a more natural part of our time together and they were completely at ease when I started to use it
  • And at one time the camera may have had a negative impact with a person seeming to freeze and become uncomfortable until I put the camera down. (I had one bad experience with a New York City police officer who did not like my camera and was sure to let me know-even though he was not the focus of the photograph I was taking).

There have also been a few jokes, raised eyebrows from friends and family, but overall the impact has been more positive than negative.

3) Accessibility

And lastly, by ‘wearing’ your camera you do away with the embarrassing “ripppp” of velcro, thereby destroying any mood and alerting everyone around that you’re about to snap a photo. My camera is in my hand and ready to go when that special moment appears.


So, do you wear your camera? I’d love to know.





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