“Get in the picture!”

I really enjoy photographing what I see. It has taught me patience, concentration, and pattern identification. In my photographer mode, things move in slow motion. There is a lot to think about in moments, especially in fast changing environments. I have to trust my first instinct and make sure my camera settings are ready.

Being in photographer mode gets a little difficult when I am photographing family and friend events, or events where people know me such as coworkers and students. There is one annoyance I often experience. “Get in the picture! Give me your camera; I’ll take it.” This is usually the last thing I want to hear. To be fair to those who have said that phrase to me, I understand you want to include me in the event. I’m part of the event like everyone else. In my perception, it often looks like I’m not there. I don’t participate too much in the events. I’m just a quiet person observing an event and interacting very little with the subjects. I do my best to not let my presence influence the environment in order to capture the true essence. The only time my presence affects the environment is when people wish to pose.

Some people think I’m stubborn for not “getting in” the picture; others think I don’t trust them with my camera (which is true). A few think I’m camera shy; that would be an oxymoron. Others will insist documenting my presence is part of their event. There are six reasons why I do not like being in my own photos.

  1. People who do use my camera do not focus correctly. I usually set my camera to auto-focus but people will switch it off because they believe their eyes have better focus.
  2. The composition of the photo is terrible.
  3. I don’t trust others holding my camera. If they happen to drop it, there goes my hobby, profession, and money. Photography is expensive.
  4. People think taking a photo is just the push of the shutter. They don’t understand that setting a shutter speed, ISO, color balance, exposure, f-stop, and composition takes practice. In my experience, people have unappreciated photography after using my camera because it was “too easy.”
  5. Sometimes people take off with my camera to photograph things they want. If you want to do that, use your own camera and set your own settings.
  6. The event is not about me. It is about everyone else.

In an interview Ricardo Arjona, Guatemalan singer and song writer, was asked if he planned to release an autobiography. He responded saying there was no need for it because his music was an autobiography of his life. If someone wanted to know about him, they could listen to his music. Very much in this same spirit, I am technically in every photo I take. Every photo is taken through my brown eyes. It is my view you are looking through. It is my memory of what I saw. When I look at my photography, I remember being there and all that I felt in the moment. I might not have much of an emotion while in photographer mode, but there is plenty of dialogue going through my mind. I really do become part of the event. I might look like I am at a distance, but I am involved.

The featured image is of my sister and I during her baptism/first communion. As you can tell, the statue behind us has great focus along with the person walking past us on the right. This is a classic situation of “I can manually focus the camera.” I had no choice but to let someone borrow my camera or else my mother’s day would have been ruined. And upsetting a mother is the last thing anyone wants to do.

If you’re thinking I don’t let anyone touch my camera, you’re not completely wrong. I do make exceptions. Anyone I know that is a photographer or has photography experience I have no problem with lending my camera. I do like being in photos, just not in bad photos on my camera. It is nice to be in photos of an event I was involved, but very rarely is there another skilled photographer. Being in a photo just isn’t my priority. After all, each picture is a fragment of my view and memory.

Disclaimer: For anyone who read this and falls into this category, in no means am I offending you. I really appreciate your gesture and kindness. I hope you understand my perspective.

5 thoughts on ““Get in the picture!”

  1. Leo! I really enjoyed reading your blog. I recently got in to photography, but I have so much to learn. I’m always trying to find time and places to practice. Where are you in the world right now? Maybe we can hang out and you could teach me some stuff.

    1. Irene! Thank you for your comment. I’m currently in New Mexico. I would love to hang out with you and go on a photo day trip. I’ll give you a heads up when I travel out to California so we can make plans.

  2. Man, that looks like a job! I sure wouldn’t want to do that sraveel times a day Love your new site by the way, and it’s great to be able to leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *