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Why This Photographer Is Better Than Me [My Photography Confession]

Image by karolajnat

Late last week I talked about how many of us need to pull back a little on ‘reading’ about photography and actually start ‘doing’ some more of it.

This struck home for me recently while at a George Michael concert here in Melbourne. OK – don’t mock, I was there with my wife, a big George fan…. I promise.

The concert was a stadium gig and we were a LONG way back in the crowd (yep… I was too cheap to get seats up close… who would pay $500 per seat for that?).

Seated directly in front of us were a couple of women (actually there were a couple of thousand of them) – one of whom took literally hundreds of photos during the night.

As someone with an interest in photography I was drawn to watching the woman taking the photos – to see what kind of results she got.

Of course, being seated 80 meters away from the stage – the shots she took with her little Sony Cybershot camera were pretty average. As the concert went on I became increasingly smug and ‘high and mighty’ as I watched her take bad shot after bad shot.

She started the night by using her flash…. and getting pictures of brightly lit backs of heads (of the people in front of her) in front of a black void.

She then tried turning off the flash and started getting blurry shots of lights on a tiny stage in the distance.

She then tried using the zoom and used the digital zoom to its maximum and ended up with massively pixelated shots…. she then decided to lean her camera against a pole beside her to stabilise the shot… slowly her shots improved – but there was nothing really that resembled a good shot.

As I watched her (and pretended to get into George for my wife’s sake) I became increasingly smug about my own photographic knowledge. I could take so much better shots than her…. because I’ve read (and written) on this very topic of taking shots at a concert.

However…. as I travelled home on the train that night after the concert it struck me – that woman had improved her photography that night more than me and that she had been a better photographer that night than I was…. because she’d actually bothered to take her camera and use it while my camera had stayed at home in its bag.

In fact – I’m guilty of the ‘I left my camera at home’ scenario a lot more than I’d like to admit. As a result I’m sure my own development as a photographer has hit a plateau of late.

Rule #1 to becoming a better photographer – take your camera with you.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category.

Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • http://jasonkimball.org jay

    Great point. I find all too often that I read thousands of articles but forget to actually bring my camera with me the majority of the time. As a novice I think Its all about getting out there and shooting and learning as much as possible with what you got.

  • http://photos.rickscheibner.net Rick

    Word. Photography is so much trial-and-error. You can study all you want to, but it’s another thing to put a living, breathing camera in your hands and get the shot that you want. Great advice here.

  • Rob

    Carrying a DLSR on your person is not always practical or probably not always social able (“OMG he brought the camera with him … again.. Are they joined at the hip !”) .

    So yes carry the SLR on the trips where you can put it down / away somewhere safe so that you can go “oh that’s nice, let me get my camera out”.

    I missed out a great shot yesterday simply because I didn’t have it in the car with me. Can’t go in the supermarket with it ( not allowed ) and don’t want to risk leaving it in the car.

    So for more practical purposes you can get a small P& S or even use your camera phone (I use the phone for location scouting, so that i can come back with the SLR for the static subjects ).

    The point of the camera is not so that you can roving about for that Pulitzer Prize. You do have a life and if it revolves around having the DLSR attached to you like a child’s security blanket then your hobby is going to get boring and to your friends so are you.

    The point of a camera is to practice your “seeing” and to capture it to the best of your ability, and that can mean with a simple P&S / Camera phone. Most of us started with something simpler than the SLR and we had to learn how to make the best of it. The camera doesn’t take the photo, you do. The camera helps you to capture, remember and learn.

  • http://www.jasonbagley.com JBagley

    A similar situation happened to me the other night, where I noticed an older man taking distance shots at night with his flash and he was really struggling. So, what did I do? I went over to help.

    I’m a real hobbyist photographer and don’t claim to be anywhere as good as most of you here, but there is a definite smugness that happens with photographers when they have their DSLR’s around their necks taking pics in a crowd of others – I.E. at a concert.

    Darren, I think you should of tapped her on the shoulder and helped. :) That would of taught you and her something valuable!

  • Darin House

    Let me just add this:

    Had you taken your camera, it might not be so easy for me to believe your wife is the BIG GM fan. lol

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/dlthibo/ DennisT

    I try (and mostly succeed) to take my camera with me almost everywhere I go. Of course with 4 young grandchildren I have the motivation to do so. Just this past weekend my wife and I went on a 2 1/2 day camping trip at a State Park about 100 miles from home. In those few days I shot 641 exposures. Although I have to admit many of them were multiple exposures of the same scene. (HDR) I think I learned a little while shooting that many shots. I’ve started to experiment more with the Av mode on my camera. I love learning about photography and striving to get better shots every day.

  • http://PhotographyByPrincess.com PG

    Love that post. you are inspiring. thank you for that encouragement!

  • http://www.boscopix.com Tonya

    Great story!!

    I started a photo-of-the day website about 3 years ago now, and have gotten used to bringing my camera (even if its just my point and shoot) with me all the time, and I have captured a lot of moments that I would have otherwise missed! It has also helped me grow as a photographer, and even just how I see the world.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

    ps- I also had no idea George was still touring! Hahah!

  • http://www.johnguate.com john guate

    i love this article alot! and i have to agree with Ales “From the photographers point of view I agree with you, but did the woman enjoy the concert as much as other people who went there to LISTEN to the concert?” first of all i feel that also when i see a photog or someone working with their camera, i’m always comparing. believe me i work with mine alot, i’m a school day photog and i shoot alot of different things and sometimes i feel as i am going in way too many different directions. but here is a profound statement i was told years ago when i used to shoe racehorses, i rode with one of the top blacksmiths in this country, he told me” you are not in competition with any one else, but yourself to do the best that you can!” we all get caught up in comparing each others work. i am also an airbrush artist and just like art photography is subjective, if you like it, thats the main thing! unless your customer doesn’t! hahahahahaha anyway, great article, thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.oliverprout.com/blog oliver

    Its rear that i take my camera, unless i’m working, does that make me a poor photographer? Avadon once said after my first thousand rolls i just got lucky. Does it not become a chore lugging a camera everywhere you go?

    Oliver Prout london fashion photographer

  • kadralkhan

    Great article. Since I have started to ride my bike into work, I have been taking my Sony alpha 380 with me. I have learned to “stop and smell the roses.” Taking an extra couple of minutes on the ride to and from work is soothing and instead of saying “I wish I had a camera,” I get to take it out and use it. It also gives me a change to play with the creative styles and different settings. As stated in the article, actually using the camera does make you a better photographer.

  • http://flickr.com/sinfony Heather

    I remember being that person with my tiny little camera, taking terrible photos one after another. But you learn from it as you noted.

    The last concert I went to was an outdoor show at a large venue. I decided I was going to bring in my camera (Canon 30D with a 28-105mm lens) As we were getting frisked, I told them what was in my bag before they asked me what it was. They told me I’d have to take it back to my car. Which really sucked considering we would miss the second opening band we wanted to see (the first one we missed stuck on the freeway in stop and go traffic) and we’d also have to walk about half a mile back to the car in the middle of nowhere (worst venue ever)

    So my friend is nice and halfway he runs it back to the car, and we go inside in time to not miss the opening band. We had floor tickets and we got extremely close.

    THIS is when I notice about a half a dozen people (no press/photo passes, just concert-goers) with DSLR’s. Some had lenses twice as big as mine. It pissed me off so much. Wondering if I just got a camera unfriendly person at the gate, or if they hid them? Or what.. the whole concert I wasn’t able to enjoy because I resorted taking photos on my iPhone instead of my expensive camera now sitting in the car. I kept watching the other concert-goers with their DSLR cameras taking the photos that I wanted to take.. not seeing anyone getting spoken to by security or anything…

    To make matters worse, it took about 2 hours to get out of the parking lot.. never going to that venue again.

  • Veronica S.

    Wow! I just had an epiphany! I’m guilty of leaving my camera home and if I don’t actually take shots my photography will not improve, regardless of how much I might have read on the subject. Thanks for sharing this article!

  • Jack Kuenzel

    One of your very best articles, David. While I didn’t pick up any new technical knowledge, I did learn to observe and respect other “beginner” photographers. And my admiration for you is more than ever, too.

    Jack

  • Remi

    You’re absolutely right. Everytime you hit the shutter button you will improve (but you must take the time to review and critic your own shot). I had the same feeling that you had. I think that we’re a better photographer than the other guy but as you said, that guy is probably learning new things and improving compared to me who left the camera at home.

  • http://N.A. J.A.Lambert

    You’re a better photographer than she is because you knew you wouldn’t get any good shots. She learned a few things that night – things you already knew. Why waste your time lugging your camera around when any shot you took would be substandard?

  • https://www.singaporegrooms.com James

    I know what you mean. I felt the exact same way when my girlfriend recently comment “you don’t seem to bring your camera out often anymore”.
    The lady has become a better student and me, a stagnant artist.

  • http://www.g1mp3r.com Mark

    i feel the same way too, so i promised myself to bring my camera all the time.

  • Darren

    This is not at all inspiring. You don’t have to always bring your camera with you to improve your photos. That lady might be taking better snapshot, but there’s no way she has enough dedication to truly improve her photography. It all starts in your mind, your vision. Practice makes prominence, but there’s so much you can do.

    I prefer taking one planned shot that spray and pray for an OK snapshot. Digital can be a curse you know.

  • http://www.flickr.com Dennis

    Darren – what led you to conclude “…but there’s no way she has enough dedication to truly improve her photography…”? How do you know she doesn’t think about and plan the shots she takes?

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/dlthibo/ DennisT

    Darren – How did you come to the conclusion “…there’s no way she has enough dedication to truly improve her photography…”?

  • Robert Sijan

    Darren, it is very courage to admit this. But with this article you are morale winner. Just keep writing… Love your articles.

    Best regards,
    Robert

  • http://www.electrotechlab.com Libby Murray

    George Michael is also a great singer and was quite famous in the 80′s era.’::

  • GustavoM

    So true, for almost 4 years I have left behind photography for several reasons, well my photo, and as time comes arround I need to start doing it again, but the thing is that I see my photos I am not satisfied with the result, but looking back after reading this post I understand why is so important to carry the camera. Now I have to buy one, because my wife has kidnapped mine and the other ones I have are filter cameras. To all enjoy carrying the camera, I will do so.

  • http://www.elizabetharchibong.com/blog elizabeth archibong

    Ohhh…as true as this sounds, I don’t know if i would want to pick up a camera on my day off. As a pro, i already have my camera an average of 4 days a week. I do understand that as professional photographers, we do also need to have a personal body of work that is different from our core specialization..which i suppose is where this article reminds me to take a couple of hours to just shoot something different….so i can actually come back to the day job with a fresher perspective

  • johan de man

    We all had to start somewhere.

    On the other hand it’s better to take no pics and enjoy the show if you know in advance you’re on the 50th row.

    You can’t take good pics and enjoy the music at the same time after all.

  • http://canonlogy.blogspot.com Michael Chan

    This is so true….
    The only good camera is one that is with you.

  • karolajnat

    hi!

    I took some better photos as well :)
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/karolajnat/sets/72157600781714270/

    karolina :)

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  • Al

    Great post! Very inspiring and thoughtful. I’ve kind of hit a rut and this’ll inspire me to carry my camera around more. Thank you for that!

Some older comments

  • Al

    April 20, 2013 01:12 am

    Great post! Very inspiring and thoughtful. I've kind of hit a rut and this'll inspire me to carry my camera around more. Thank you for that!

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  • karolajnat

    January 18, 2011 08:32 am

    hi!

    I took some better photos as well :)
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/karolajnat/sets/72157600781714270/

    karolina :)

  • Michael Chan

    October 19, 2010 01:42 am

    This is so true....
    The only good camera is one that is with you.

  • johan de man

    August 25, 2010 12:49 pm

    We all had to start somewhere.

    On the other hand it's better to take no pics and enjoy the show if you know in advance you're on the 50th row.

    You can't take good pics and enjoy the music at the same time after all.

  • elizabeth archibong

    August 8, 2010 06:28 pm

    Ohhh...as true as this sounds, I don't know if i would want to pick up a camera on my day off. As a pro, i already have my camera an average of 4 days a week. I do understand that as professional photographers, we do also need to have a personal body of work that is different from our core specialization..which i suppose is where this article reminds me to take a couple of hours to just shoot something different....so i can actually come back to the day job with a fresher perspective

  • GustavoM

    July 1, 2010 07:48 am

    So true, for almost 4 years I have left behind photography for several reasons, well my photo, and as time comes arround I need to start doing it again, but the thing is that I see my photos I am not satisfied with the result, but looking back after reading this post I understand why is so important to carry the camera. Now I have to buy one, because my wife has kidnapped mine and the other ones I have are filter cameras. To all enjoy carrying the camera, I will do so.

  • Libby Murray

    May 28, 2010 10:37 am

    George Michael is also a great singer and was quite famous in the 80's era.'::

  • Robert Sijan

    May 16, 2010 12:51 am

    Darren, it is very courage to admit this. But with this article you are morale winner. Just keep writing... Love your articles.

    Best regards,
    Robert

  • DennisT

    May 6, 2010 01:03 pm

    Darren - How did you come to the conclusion "...there’s no way she has enough dedication to truly improve her photography..."?

  • Dennis

    May 5, 2010 11:29 pm

    Darren - what led you to conclude "...but there's no way she has enough dedication to truly improve her photography..."? How do you know she doesn't think about and plan the shots she takes?

  • Darren

    May 5, 2010 01:09 pm

    This is not at all inspiring. You don't have to always bring your camera with you to improve your photos. That lady might be taking better snapshot, but there's no way she has enough dedication to truly improve her photography. It all starts in your mind, your vision. Practice makes prominence, but there's so much you can do.

    I prefer taking one planned shot that spray and pray for an OK snapshot. Digital can be a curse you know.

  • Mark

    April 21, 2010 06:51 am

    i feel the same way too, so i promised myself to bring my camera all the time.

  • James

    April 15, 2010 05:07 pm

    I know what you mean. I felt the exact same way when my girlfriend recently comment "you don't seem to bring your camera out often anymore".
    The lady has become a better student and me, a stagnant artist.

  • J.A.Lambert

    April 6, 2010 12:25 am

    You're a better photographer than she is because you knew you wouldn't get any good shots. She learned a few things that night - things you already knew. Why waste your time lugging your camera around when any shot you took would be substandard?

  • Remi

    April 3, 2010 11:42 am

    You're absolutely right. Everytime you hit the shutter button you will improve (but you must take the time to review and critic your own shot). I had the same feeling that you had. I think that we're a better photographer than the other guy but as you said, that guy is probably learning new things and improving compared to me who left the camera at home.

  • Jack Kuenzel

    April 3, 2010 04:24 am

    One of your very best articles, David. While I didn't pick up any new technical knowledge, I did learn to observe and respect other "beginner" photographers. And my admiration for you is more than ever, too.

    Jack

  • Veronica S.

    April 3, 2010 12:53 am

    Wow! I just had an epiphany! I'm guilty of leaving my camera home and if I don't actually take shots my photography will not improve, regardless of how much I might have read on the subject. Thanks for sharing this article!

  • Heather

    April 2, 2010 03:32 pm

    I remember being that person with my tiny little camera, taking terrible photos one after another. But you learn from it as you noted.

    The last concert I went to was an outdoor show at a large venue. I decided I was going to bring in my camera (Canon 30D with a 28-105mm lens) As we were getting frisked, I told them what was in my bag before they asked me what it was. They told me I'd have to take it back to my car. Which really sucked considering we would miss the second opening band we wanted to see (the first one we missed stuck on the freeway in stop and go traffic) and we'd also have to walk about half a mile back to the car in the middle of nowhere (worst venue ever)

    So my friend is nice and halfway he runs it back to the car, and we go inside in time to not miss the opening band. We had floor tickets and we got extremely close.

    THIS is when I notice about a half a dozen people (no press/photo passes, just concert-goers) with DSLR's. Some had lenses twice as big as mine. It pissed me off so much. Wondering if I just got a camera unfriendly person at the gate, or if they hid them? Or what.. the whole concert I wasn't able to enjoy because I resorted taking photos on my iPhone instead of my expensive camera now sitting in the car. I kept watching the other concert-goers with their DSLR cameras taking the photos that I wanted to take.. not seeing anyone getting spoken to by security or anything...

    To make matters worse, it took about 2 hours to get out of the parking lot.. never going to that venue again.

  • kadralkhan

    April 2, 2010 12:42 pm

    Great article. Since I have started to ride my bike into work, I have been taking my Sony alpha 380 with me. I have learned to "stop and smell the roses." Taking an extra couple of minutes on the ride to and from work is soothing and instead of saying "I wish I had a camera," I get to take it out and use it. It also gives me a change to play with the creative styles and different settings. As stated in the article, actually using the camera does make you a better photographer.

  • oliver

    April 2, 2010 07:31 am

    Its rear that i take my camera, unless i'm working, does that make me a poor photographer? Avadon once said after my first thousand rolls i just got lucky. Does it not become a chore lugging a camera everywhere you go?

    Oliver Prout london fashion photographer

  • john guate

    April 2, 2010 04:17 am

    i love this article alot! and i have to agree with Ales "From the photographers point of view I agree with you, but did the woman enjoy the concert as much as other people who went there to LISTEN to the concert?" first of all i feel that also when i see a photog or someone working with their camera, i'm always comparing. believe me i work with mine alot, i'm a school day photog and i shoot alot of different things and sometimes i feel as i am going in way too many different directions. but here is a profound statement i was told years ago when i used to shoe racehorses, i rode with one of the top blacksmiths in this country, he told me" you are not in competition with any one else, but yourself to do the best that you can!" we all get caught up in comparing each others work. i am also an airbrush artist and just like art photography is subjective, if you like it, thats the main thing! unless your customer doesn't! hahahahahaha anyway, great article, thanks for sharing!

  • Tonya

    April 2, 2010 03:14 am

    Great story!!

    I started a photo-of-the day website about 3 years ago now, and have gotten used to bringing my camera (even if its just my point and shoot) with me all the time, and I have captured a lot of moments that I would have otherwise missed! It has also helped me grow as a photographer, and even just how I see the world.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

    ps- I also had no idea George was still touring! Hahah!

  • PG

    April 2, 2010 03:06 am

    Love that post. you are inspiring. thank you for that encouragement!

  • DennisT

    April 2, 2010 02:19 am

    I try (and mostly succeed) to take my camera with me almost everywhere I go. Of course with 4 young grandchildren I have the motivation to do so. Just this past weekend my wife and I went on a 2 1/2 day camping trip at a State Park about 100 miles from home. In those few days I shot 641 exposures. Although I have to admit many of them were multiple exposures of the same scene. (HDR) I think I learned a little while shooting that many shots. I've started to experiment more with the Av mode on my camera. I love learning about photography and striving to get better shots every day.

  • Darin House

    April 2, 2010 02:08 am

    Let me just add this:

    Had you taken your camera, it might not be so easy for me to believe your wife is the BIG GM fan. lol

  • JBagley

    April 1, 2010 09:19 pm

    A similar situation happened to me the other night, where I noticed an older man taking distance shots at night with his flash and he was really struggling. So, what did I do? I went over to help.

    I'm a real hobbyist photographer and don't claim to be anywhere as good as most of you here, but there is a definite smugness that happens with photographers when they have their DSLR's around their necks taking pics in a crowd of others - I.E. at a concert.

    Darren, I think you should of tapped her on the shoulder and helped. :) That would of taught you and her something valuable!

  • Rob

    April 1, 2010 07:00 am

    Carrying a DLSR on your person is not always practical or probably not always social able (“OMG he brought the camera with him ... again.. Are they joined at the hip !”) .

    So yes carry the SLR on the trips where you can put it down / away somewhere safe so that you can go “oh that’s nice, let me get my camera out”.

    I missed out a great shot yesterday simply because I didn’t have it in the car with me. Can’t go in the supermarket with it ( not allowed ) and don’t want to risk leaving it in the car.

    So for more practical purposes you can get a small P& S or even use your camera phone (I use the phone for location scouting, so that i can come back with the SLR for the static subjects ).

    The point of the camera is not so that you can roving about for that Pulitzer Prize. You do have a life and if it revolves around having the DLSR attached to you like a child’s security blanket then your hobby is going to get boring and to your friends so are you.

    The point of a camera is to practice your “seeing” and to capture it to the best of your ability, and that can mean with a simple P&S / Camera phone. Most of us started with something simpler than the SLR and we had to learn how to make the best of it. The camera doesn’t take the photo, you do. The camera helps you to capture, remember and learn.

  • Rick

    March 31, 2010 11:40 pm

    Word. Photography is so much trial-and-error. You can study all you want to, but it's another thing to put a living, breathing camera in your hands and get the shot that you want. Great advice here.

  • jay

    March 31, 2010 08:28 pm

    Great point. I find all too often that I read thousands of articles but forget to actually bring my camera with me the majority of the time. As a novice I think Its all about getting out there and shooting and learning as much as possible with what you got.

  • themainingredigent

    March 31, 2010 08:26 pm

    simply a great conclusion you made in this article, evven if I would not like to take photos of a George Micheal concert

  • Shirley

    March 31, 2010 04:20 pm

    There is always something to learn even from the pettiest experience. Darren is showing us how "taking action" will enhance us much more than "reading without pressing the shutter". Even when the results were not great, we learn something from the action.

    We make personal choices everyday whether to take, or not to take, our camera. My suggestion will be to carry around a good quality camera handphone wherever we go. Mine has been a life saver in many occasion, such as spontaneous trip to Gili Ketapang (a beautiful isolated island in Indonesia) with a boat or simply birthday luncheon with my colleagues. On a sunny day, that's adequate.

  • Kate

    March 31, 2010 10:49 am

    You're absolutely right - the only way to get better is to practise! I join all sorts of Flickr project groups and come up with my own projects to keep me shooting and learning :)

  • Juan Manuel

    March 31, 2010 10:49 am

    Yes this is my fault too but i'll try to carry my cam with me I promise :)

  • Jamie Carl

    March 31, 2010 08:33 am

    It's funny this came up this morning. I was feeling the exact same way. I was laying in bed this morning thinking and it hit me. I don't take enough photos!

    So on the way out the door this morning I picked up my old Pentax K1000 which was pre-loaded with a roll of Tri-X 400 and I decided to photograph EVERYTHING. Sort of document my life in grainy black and white, if you will.

    Let's hope I can keep it up.

  • drr0b

    March 31, 2010 06:01 am

    A very good point!

    I've been on a similar learning journey over the last few months: I've taken over 10,000 photos with my new DSLR since January. Most of these were repeat shots of pretty boring subjects under different conditions just to get my eye in. I've kept about 900 of these, so the keeper ratio Isn't great, but it was down to one in forty!

  • terryd

    March 31, 2010 05:38 am

    Several thoughts here

    FIRST ... think of the pictures you COULD have got if you'd brought your camera ... this lady learning would have been an interesting photographic storyline ... more fun than the concert

    SECOND ... I agree with the 'carry your camera always' ... I always have a point-and-shoot and my cell phone camera with me and some absolutely great pictures have come from both. Sometimes a DSLR gets in the way. A small camera you can grab from your pocket works best in many situations.

    THIRD ... One thing I haven't seen mentioned here ... when you don't have a camera or sometimes even if you do, you can get a lot out of playing camera yourself. Photography is about seeing and if ARE the camera, you can learn to SEE the things that you might have passed over but which would show up in a picture.

  • Louis Rivera

    March 31, 2010 05:20 am

    Its as if I were right there with you!!!!

  • Rutger Blom

    March 31, 2010 04:04 am

    So true. Nice article.

  • Photografied

    March 31, 2010 02:21 am

    Agreed!!!!

  • Dave Clark

    March 31, 2010 01:10 am

    Good article. I agree that we do need to bring our camera with us more often and just shoot in addition to reading.
    However, in cases of going to a concert with your wife, that's a hard one to justify for two reasons.
    First, your wife (if she's anything like mine) may be understanding of your passion for photography and let you shoot away while she's trying to enjoy the moment. But the fact is, I'm sure she'd much rather have you enjoy the moment with her. This is my dilemma in many cases...
    Second, as a man who's shot many bands at many venues, I know that sneaking in a little point and shoot is very possible, whereas bringing a dSLR usually isn't. So you're taking a huge risk of getting turned away at the door and sent back to the parking lot to go stash your gear while your wife gets frustrated because she's missing the opening acts.

    So yes, get out and shoot more but remember, a happy wife equals a happy life. ;)

  • Danferno

    March 31, 2010 12:00 am

    #2 Learn to make mental photographs.

  • Dan

    March 31, 2010 12:00 am

    It's almost a moot point to me... at the last few concerts I've been to, cameras were pretty much a no-no. They would let you take "point & shoot" models but anything with interchangeable lenses had to be left in the car.

    But your underlying point is certainly valid. The best way to become a better photographer is to pick up your camera and use it, use it, use it.

    dlm

  • Michael

    March 30, 2010 11:55 pm

    TOTALLY been there man. However I try not to get myself down about concerts due to the fact that most big venues in the states don't allow "professional" cameras. The smaller ones are generally ok but depends on how well you can charm the door/stage crew.

    Taking my camera everywhere with me has been an evolving struggle. First I got a small digital to take with me everywhere because my SLR is too bulky and noticeable. Then came the realization that small point & shoot wasn't enough and that I needed my SLR....so then came an army of various camera bags trying to figure out which was best. Now, with my Kata Prism-U, its easy for me to cart that stuff around and Ive finally gotten used to keeping it around at all times [which puzzles most people]. Now comes the next evolutionary step of actually taking it OUT of the bag and using it more.

  • Flores

    March 30, 2010 11:47 pm

    I never ask myself "why this photographer is better then me" even to person who just first time taking picture. Every time I see a good photo, always comes to my mind is: "how does she/he photograph it?" For me, to ask "why' simply means to put myself much higher than I suppose to be. My level is basic, very basic. Thanks.

  • Dan Ketcham

    March 30, 2010 11:01 pm

    Very good point....
    At first I didnt know where you were going with this, but as the article progressed I was very happy to keep reading. Im sorry that you had to go through the agony of GM to get to this point, but...

    Thank you for sharing this, and I too, am finding myself more and more bringing my camera along with me everyday now... its really not that hard to do it.

  • John

    March 30, 2010 10:41 pm

    I have to say that sometimes leaving the camera at home allows me to enjoy concerts, performances etc. much more because I actually SEE the whole thing using the best lens / memory card combo on the planet... my eyes and my brain. Memories are very special and sometimes what is in my heart grows because of what I truly see.

  • Sneha

    March 30, 2010 10:29 pm

    I have been reading (only reading) your posts and many other posts on DPS on a daily basis. I own a point and shoot and have always thought that i will start shooting seriously when i get my own DSLR.

    but after reading your recent posts, what hit me was, i am only reading but doing close to nothing about improving photography skills.

    I would be taking my camera with me more often.
    thanks for writing this!
    :)

  • Arun

    March 30, 2010 09:26 pm

    Well, I can't relate better to your post! It happened to me once, although I didn't happen to see someone live improving - it was offline..

    I did get motivated! There are times when I'm scared to take my big cam out everywhere, coz they're too much equipment and attract a lot of attention. I'm slowly getting out of it, but there are still places I won't take it easily! I'm thinking of buying myself a P&S for those reasons now!
    But the more Pro you become, the less you 'will' lug around your cam everywhere... Apart from those 'moments' that you'd miss, I don't think you could get quality shots! You'd require a lot of time giving importance to lot of details like composition, lighting, etc.. Prepare yourself for a shoot, take them all, and you'd be surprised you learn a lot! But don't blame yourself for not being 'the guy with the cam around his neck'!!!

  • Connie

    March 30, 2010 08:52 pm

    Thanks for the honesty! I learn so much from your site. As a beginner, I sometimes feel very shy about pulling the camera out and taking pictures - especially around more experienced photographers. I will work harder to overcome this shyness in the future. Every time I use my camera, I learn something new! (As helpful as you are here, I can't believe you weren't offering tips and advice to your fellow concert-goer.)

  • Dzhonny

    March 30, 2010 08:26 pm

    @ales: youre absolutely right....I have been on Barrack Obama speech with my D90 and i was taking photo after photo and eventually in the end I edned up with dozens of images on my memory card and with no clue what was he talking about.

  • taf

    March 30, 2010 07:25 pm

    Great article... thanks!

  • Trudy

    March 30, 2010 06:00 pm

    Great honesty in this post. It's so funny...I love to read posts...I love to read and write. But nothing beats having that camera in hand. Even when I am out for a stroll I will even whip out my iPhone, just to see what I can do. Thanks for sharing...pull that camera out more! :)

  • Jake

    March 30, 2010 04:50 pm

    I don't blame you for leaving your camera at home. (and its not just for the lack of proof that you went to the concert.) I have also been guilty of leaving the camera at home more than i should have, but i have also been guilty of paying more attention to my camera then my girlfriend (who likes to snuggle during fireworks, plays, or in the middle of the night). Actually watching and enjoying the event without a camera does however have its perks. Yes I enjoy shooting, but its a completely different experience when you don't have a camera with you and just being able to relax and enjoy watching someone else enjoy shooting the event. I tend to lean heavily on the side of leaving the camera at home unless you are either 1) Going to the event alone or 2) if you are being paid. Don't miss out on making the event matter to those your with also.[eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/jakekidney/4475858878/' title='IMG_1230-52' url='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2786/4475858878_af6b7d104e.jpg']

  • Fox

    March 30, 2010 04:45 pm

    Loved the way you narrated her improvisations! I 'was there' and I 'could see' her do all that. It was quite funny too! And it does not enter many people's reality that there was a lesson for them to take in than the woman clicking away. Thanks for sharing!

    (You secretly liked the gig didn't ya! :P :P)

  • Amandalynn Jones

    March 30, 2010 03:21 pm

    Excellent piece. One of the best on DPS in quite a while.

  • Jason Collin Photography

    March 30, 2010 03:00 pm

    Would you be allowed to take a DSLR with the necessary 300mm+ lens and sturdy tripod to make a good shot from your seats at the George Michael concert??

    Nothing like trial and error for improving one's photography. It has to be the single largest photography learning method. I cannot imagine a photographer of any level who still does not use at least some trial and error when in a new photography situation, or using new gear.

  • Garth

    March 30, 2010 02:41 pm

    I find these situations to be somewhat of a paradox. Lugging the full DSLR kit to events like this tends to create distraction and thus not fully living in the moment. On the other hand expecting to get satisfying results from a pocket sized camera just feels futile.
    My assumption is however that while you may not get the desired color and clarity, the capture of composition and emotion can be summoned from any camera.

  • YeseniaDLM

    March 30, 2010 02:11 pm

    Wow... this was a really good article. It was kind of deep to... towards the end.

  • Jonathan

    March 30, 2010 11:56 am

    BRILLIANT article. That is all.

  • johnp

    March 30, 2010 10:04 am

    Yes you are right if you don't have your camera you don't have the photo. Every Saturday we walk our dog down to our local beach and river mouth. Usually too much hassle to take the camera but everytime I don't I'm always left thinking " that would have been a great shot if I had my camera". Sometimes I make a special trip the next day but the shot has always gone.

  • Fergus

    March 30, 2010 08:25 am

    @makeda pennycooke I agree with Dan. Having also recently finished a Project365, i found it taught to me look in all sorts of places to find an image (one shot is of the inside of my griller).

    As for the article, what a wonderful reminder. I find myself getting complacent "I'll bring my camera tomorrow/I'll get a few frames on the weekend/I'll read a book about photos today" etc... i've got to start leacing my trusty IXUS80 in my bag again.

    as luck would have it, im looking at a fantastic photo out of my office window and my camera is sitting my my desk at home...murpheys law

  • Eric

    March 30, 2010 08:20 am

    I actually put my camera bag in my car based on your previous post.

  • scott

    March 30, 2010 07:49 am

    I decided a while ago to buy one of those "heavily discounted" models that was being shoved off the market for no other reason than a new model was coming out. I bought a perfectly good cool-pix and keep it in the glove box of my car for just this reason. Often the big investment (and the heavy bag) does not make it to some events where I really wish I had my camera. This $40 gem has been a lifesaver and I can upgrade it for a song as the market continues to saturate us with new models.

    www.lightshootedit.com

    -sed

  • Ales

    March 30, 2010 07:48 am

    From the photographers point of view I agree with you, but did the woman enjoy the concert as much as other people who went there to LISTEN to the concert?
    Probably not.

  • Miguel Carvajal

    March 30, 2010 07:39 am

    I, too, am guilty of leaving my camera behind at home when I go somewhere. I am training myself to actually keep it inside my camera bag and then place the bag in front of the garage door so that I will literally have to trip over it when I'm getting ready to go out... alas, this has created a problem with my spouse, who does not appreciate tripping over the bag when going out... sigh...
    ...and, by the way, George Michael rocks! :o)

  • Shannon

    March 30, 2010 07:31 am

    Been in the exact same situation recently. Watching others and criticizing their techniques while my own camera is holding a countertop down at home.

  • Makeda Pennycooke

    March 30, 2010 07:13 am

    I am a newbie who wants to get better but is not picking up her camera. The lesson is not lost on me. Clearly I'm not serious about getting better or else I would be picking up my camera. I have to do better. Thank you for the reminder. I'll keep working on it.

  • Linda van Rosmalen

    March 30, 2010 06:55 am

    Marie Glynn put it best. Great little post Darren!

  • JJ

    March 30, 2010 06:52 am

    I must say this happens to me quite often. I see people trying to use the flash with people in the way and getting a dark background with some bright heads, and felt smug with my knowledge. Or, when I see somebody with a basic DSLR with a kit camera trying to take a picture of themselves in a group, and questioning why they didn't bring a tripod. But, I realize that at least they brought a camera and are giving some of an attempt to take a picture and capture the moment.

  • Tami

    March 30, 2010 06:49 am

    My main subject is sitting next to me with a fever, cough and runny nose. I sometimes make the choice to leave the camera in it's bag so that I can just be in the moment with her instead of being the documenter of the moment. Of course I'm always seeing the perfect shot when I do this. It's always a great incentive to keep a camera close by for next time.

  • Bjorn

    March 30, 2010 06:47 am

    Nice article.

    I'd add that I personally try to have _a_ camera with me most times. Not necessarily _the_ camera. I.E. I keep a point and shoot in my bag when I go to work, but don't carry my DSLR.

  • David

    March 30, 2010 06:43 am

    Canon S90 to the rescue! Great pocket size concert camera. Although, once you hit the tele end it will be kind of tough. I liked the article, and I can relate!

  • 365 Photography Tips

    March 30, 2010 06:43 am

    You never stop learning, never stop improving. Although you always need to practise in order to step forward, you're also learning during these moments when you're observing other's errors. I think there are a lot of ways to get the knowledge, but yes, it's true.. bringing the camera with you will always give you the chance of improving.

  • Zak Nyberg

    March 30, 2010 06:42 am

    The thing about your article that struck me is that without reading a ton of photography blogs and spending uncounted hours on this site alone, she improved her photo skills just by quick trial and error. Very cool. Maybe next time you should give the amateur some tips, though.

  • Todd Eddy

    March 30, 2010 06:37 am

    Perhaps that could be a new article (or maybe it already is). Since there have been a few recent articles talking about allways having your camera with you and such. What's a good bag/loadout for an every day keep it with you at all times situation. Sure one of the larger sling backpacks are good when you're out on a photowalk and want to take a lot of your stuff with you, but what about a small pack that you can keep by your side the whole day.

  • Marie Glynn

    March 30, 2010 06:36 am

    Really nice post, Darren. The woman you watched grew as a photographer, and you grew as a person.

    Best regards,

    Marie

  • Greg Taylor

    March 30, 2010 06:28 am

    Thank you for the honest post. As with everything the more you "do" the better you get. This particular lady went from using a flash - the first instinct by every beginner to turning it off and after she didn't like those results she decided to stabilize the camera to decrease the blur.

    That's an awesome story! She learned by doing, reviewing and refining! I am a concert photographer and everyone asks how did I learn to take low light music photographs and I always say by going to shows with my camera.

    You have ZERO chance of getting a good photograph (wherever you are) if you don't have your camera with you!

    Many times I feel like I also hit a creative plateau. The thing that gets me out of my rut is by going and shooting some completely different subject matter than I am used to shooting. After I clear my head, so to speak, I am ready to go back to preferred subject matter and make a go at it.

    Great story and I applaud your honesty with this post.

  • Dan

    March 30, 2010 06:24 am

    I'm finishing up a Project 365 and I can tell you with certainty that it is the best thing I've done for myself photographically. Even on days when i wasn't interested, I had to come up with *something*. It's fun to look back over your year and watch the improvement.

  • Alex

    March 30, 2010 06:23 am

    Love it :)
    Great article so true

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