3 Stupidly Simple Reasons Why Most People's Photography Does Not Improve

3 Stupidly Simple Reasons Why Most People’s Photography Does Not Improve



I’m presuming that this article will not apply to some readers of dPS… but after 3 conversations in the last week which revealed the same photography problems in 3 different people – I thought I’d better jot them down.

Warning: none of this is rocket science sometimes the basics need to be said!

1. You don’t Take Your Camera With You

If you don’t practice using your camera you’re unlikely to ever grow in your understanding of and skill in photography and if you rarely have it with you – you’ll not get that practice.

Does that mean you need to lug your DSLR and all your cumbersome gear around with you all the time?

Maybe – I have friends who are never without their main camera – but if that’s just not practical, at least make sure you have a smaller point and shoot or even a decent camera phone with you at all times. While the quality of the images you take might not be as great with these cameras – at least you’ll be practicing your composition, thinking about light, color and other aspects of photography.

Further Reading: 5 Reasons to Take Your Camera Everywhere

2. You’re Going too Fast

Many of us lead life at such a fast pace that we rarely stop to see the opportunities right before us to take wonderful images.

You can carry your camera around with you 24/7 for the rest of your life but unless you learn to slow down and to look at the world a little differently you may never actually use it.

As a result – I guess one of the tips I find myself giving to some that I talk to is to find ways to slow down – or at least slow down temporarily to set aside time to be a bit more intentional about photography. It might start by taking a walk with the main objective of doing some photography but could also be something bigger like a weekend away with your camera or even taking a photography class or tour.

For me its about building photography into your daily rhythm and in time it starts to become a more natural thing as you get in the habit of seeing life a little differently.

Further Reading: A great Exercise to help you to Slow Down and Take Better Photos

3. You are Worried what Others Will Think

I’ve come across quite a few people lately who suffer from ‘framing paralysis’.

They take their camera with them and they even slow down enough to see the photographic opportunities around the – but there’s just something that stops them lifting their camera up to frame the shot.

When I dig a little I’ve found in most of these instances the person is simply worried about what others around the will think if they use their camera. Will they look stupid? Will people think that they’re photographing them?

Its a feeling I’ll admit to having myself in the past and when I asked about it on our Facebook page the other day it seems that it’s quite common.

I guess the key to moving through framing paralysis is to grow your confidence as a photographer. For me the more photos I took and the more I began to exercise the discipline of taking images the easier it got. Another friend of mine got over his paralysis by finding a photography buddy to go out with – two of the taking shots somehow seemed less confronting than him doing it alone.

Further Reading: How to Be Inspired and not Intimidated by Other Photographers

What do You Think?

Of course the above are very simple things that hold many people back and there are bound to be others that readers here at dPS might have experienced. I’d love to hear from you on two fronts:

  1. what other simple things hold you (or other photographers) back from improving?
  2. what tips and solutions would you give others facing these problems?

I’m looking forward to hearing more from the dPS community on this!

Read This!

Check out this post with 5 Good Photography Habits to Start Today.

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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+.

Some Older Comments

  • Alice August 1, 2013 03:13 am

    3 years ago I joined a 365 group on Flickr. The commitment is to take pics daily, and then post one. Just having to take pictures every day, looking for new subjects and ideas, and then looking them over, comparing what I got to what I had intended, has really improved my skills. And led to me carrying a camera wherever I go.

  • mangesh rane July 1, 2013 07:08 pm

    dead right !

  • Jeffrey July 1, 2013 02:23 pm


    I have seen fantastic smartphone and iphone.
    photographs and terrible 5d3 photos.
    Take your camera wth you.
    Think about your shots before you take them
    Do not worry about what other people think about you
    Have Fun!!!!!!!

  • MANGESH RANE June 30, 2013 03:02 pm

    most of the people are concerned with which is the best camera to use,

    rather than how to improve with present one.

    90% think, only cameras starting with name N & C gives best photographs.

  • Caroline Blair May 17, 2013 04:20 am

    PS--- I took one of THE best pics of my life once, simply because I had the camera with me. It was a buck (deer) with his 12 does!!!!! I snapped two, one was perfect. I will never see that again in my life!

  • Caroline Blair May 17, 2013 04:18 am

    You are soooo right. I take my "purse" camera with me ALWAYS a small Nikon Coolpix I can stick in any piece of clothing I have on hahaha.. I have a Canon T4i with 2 lenses I haul around when I want to slow down. I admit, ppl doooo look at you strangely if you are taking pics of THEM. I try to wait til others are out of the way, take alot of nature shots, rain, snow, wildflowers also. IF I am going to be taking pics with ppl nearby, I sometimes tell them I am taking pics and if they want to move, I have no problem. Most don't care and will ask for copies. I agree, if you don't work the camera, you will never know how to work it. I have 2 other underwater cameras and an old Canon also. Yes, I am camera poor!

  • SteveMLewis May 9, 2013 05:15 pm

    Totally agree with the framing paralysis. I carry my camera all of the time and have learnt to see opportunities everywhere but will very often feel self conscious getting my camera out.

  • Elizabeth May 8, 2013 09:20 pm

    Clients keep me from advancing.
    I was the same way afraid of what people would think then realized. I am a photographer and maybe someone out there my be curious and ask me questions. Bingo... Possibly potential client.

  • Ndinda J May 8, 2013 03:05 pm

    So true. I have been wanting to improve my photography, but never have my camera with me. I will start carrying it in my handbag.

  • bodo werner May 7, 2013 08:31 pm

    When I use my D90, I don't care what other people think for most of the time they say I bet you get some nice photos, my wife sometimes complains about the time I take over getting that best shot, but not when she sees the result, I love taking my camera on holidays and then setting up an iphoto slide show with music and inserts of the places that we have been to, my travel agent always wants the dvd to show clients.

  • George Alex May 6, 2013 11:16 pm

    Hi..found this particularly true in India, where you see people all around. I take my camera out to take some street shots and there you have women walking in your frame...and you better be careful! They think you are taking their shot and will come straight at you!

  • Henry K May 5, 2013 10:19 pm

    "slowing down" is one that I fully agree with you on. I have experienced this when I was a member of the camera club when the group went out for a shoot, I found it difficult to keep up with the pace of the members of the group. Was always left behind and at times lost them. My other experience was that, one tends to be attracted to shooting what the other members have seen. At times the group go out for a shoot, either on a specific subject of the day. I then lose out because my genre is 'macro' which in most cases entail shooting at very tiny and unsturdy subjects, eg insects, flowers. Macro is one genre that demands 'patience, perseverance and a lot of time' just to get 'that shot'. I also used to get 'intimidated by other photographers' gear - big camera bodies, huge lenses, latest high tech cameras and stuff. My advice on that one is that, as a photographer, one has to focus and consentrate seriously on ones subject. Anything else is just a destraction. Let me not be misunderstood on the 'camera clubs and group shoots'. They are fantastic.

  • Karin J May 5, 2013 09:28 pm

    I never leave the house without a camera slung round my neck, and take pictures every single day, although I probably edit out 9 out of 10 of these. I compose through my viewfinder rather than relying on cropping later, although occasionally I do crop to improve a specific composition. I snap what is going on in our little town, what's coming up in the garden, people wandering about, dogs, cats, signs and posters ... and am always on the lookout for humorous situations.

    If I want to take a picture of a specific individual, I ask that person if I can do so, and always show them what I have taken, and delete the picture if they don't like it. Most of the time, it's OK.

    The very few times when I have left my camera at home (because I can be absent-minded, or have no charged batteries), I have missed some great situations and cursed myself for it.

    My biggest problem at the moment is getting to grips with my new Canon 600D SLR, so I read through the manual and experiment at home, testing the various functions.

    'Though I say so myself, my eye has improved tremendously over the last three years, thanks to carrying my Ixus (and now my 600D) with me at all times.

  • Liz B. May 5, 2013 08:51 am

    Number 3 is a huge one for me. With film I always slowed down, but with digital I just seem to go too fast and seem to shoot too fast. Also I think a huge thing is that people shoot first and want to just fix it in post editing later. Just two seconds fixing a shot and getting it right the first time helps you save a ton of time and grief later while editing. Never rely on post-editing! Get it right the first time and have fun!

  • Beau Wright May 5, 2013 12:24 am

    Rely: To the guy who said he asked people if he could photograph people and when he asked police on the bench if he could photograph them and they said no. You have the right to video/photograph any officer. Just saying.

    I don't consider myself a beginner, but I'm not a pro. I find my problem is that I'm very protective of my camera and never take it on the awesome nature 6-8 mile hike I do because I'm worried I'll hit it on a rock and break it or something. But when I do take it on my less steep hike I get great results. You just have to get over whatever you are afraid of, take your DSLR with you, and actually use it.

  • Betty Manousos@Cut and Dry May 4, 2013 10:14 pm

    thank you dear darren for this interesting article.
    #3 struck home with me.
    as i post through G+ as well, that one seems to matter a lot.
    as you know, all images there are getting comments and views!!

    thanks again for your brilliant post:)

  • Teresa cole May 4, 2013 09:53 am

    I take my camera as much as possible, but hesitate to leave my camera in a hot car. What is too hot or too cold? While driving during work hours, just after a rain, I saw black birds reflected in a puddle by the curb and beautifully backlit. No camera, just my ipad. Tried, but traffic too heavy for a decent shot. If you think it is okay to keep a camera in the car, then I will. Love this site by the way.

  • Robert Cherny May 4, 2013 09:16 am

    Too many of us take the pictures, dump them to a drive and never go back to look at them. We should review and print more of what we shoot than we do.

  • Michael May 4, 2013 08:55 am

    Nice ariticle! 
    My number 1 Challange with photography is people, I have a big interst in street photography and I used to shoot people. The main problem with them is they didn't have a clue about what photography mean(here in Ethiopia), some of them thinks that I will get some bunch of cash because I took their pictures. Sometimes I try to be friendly with my subjects after hardtime of negotiations but when I get back to my framing I lose the natural compostion of the subjects. I always get my self in dilemma( can I tell them or not) 
    2. The other problem is police. Most Ethiopian police didn't know what can u take picture & what u can't take. When police man finds u when ur taking pictures they are asking you what you are taking, where you from, show ur ID, why ur taking it??? Millions questions 
    This two big problem is pushing me to change my big interest from street photography to landscape :( 

  • Lori LC May 4, 2013 02:38 am

    Getting out of Auto mode is a challenge.learning how to use aperture and shutter settings, using RAW, changing light balance. These are points I am still working on. I enjoy shooting everything in sight, makes the neighbors wonder about me ;)

  • Al Griffin May 4, 2013 12:38 am

    Good article. The basics need to be repeated. Photography is like writing: daily practice is important. Also, joining and being INVOLVED in a few communities where you share.
    Everything we know about photography means nothing if we don't have the camera in our hand.

  • Todd E May 4, 2013 12:25 am

    I try to think of what most photographers would do to get a shot & then not do that. Be very creative. I like it people look at me like I'm crazy when shooting. When they see the shot, they understand. I'm not afraid to mess up either. Learning experience. I try to keep it fun!

  • Angelique May 3, 2013 11:10 pm

    Jenny r. i think you should have aksed them if you can take their photo. life is about taking chances and getting out there to learn and then teach others. they could only say no, but if they do you can take their details and even give them a copy of their lovely photo. God gave us courage and i think we must use it to our advantage in the best possible way.


  • Angelique May 3, 2013 11:03 pm

    I think im struggling cause when i do a shoot i get stuck on where- what- how. I use poses i draw from the net to have a shoot. All poses, props, i just started - and learning, but its fustrating not to know, how and when to tell them how to stand and what to do. Maybe you can help me on that please, please.

    regards Angie

  • Gary Duerr May 3, 2013 10:58 pm

    If you care deeply about what others think about your equipment, methods, or subject matter; maybe you shouldn't take pictures. Pictures are like visual opinoins, no-one will agree with them 100% of the time.

  • Constance May 3, 2013 10:13 pm

    I just started taking my camera with me almost everywhere I go now. Every once in a while when I leave it home, I feel "naked" :-P...It's a habit I love already! Having the camera with me makes me slow down and more aware of my surroundings. If I'm shooting a scene with people in it (and they are my focus), I will usually ask up front if they mind but I'm not a shy person usually.

  • Jenny R May 3, 2013 09:23 pm

    Mostly I take photo's of birds, butterflies and animals, so I don't have to deal with any objections. I like to have my aim n shoot with me usually.
    But one day I saw a young girl about 8 or 9 years sitting with her grand dad, in a Milkylane, each having a milk shake. The really cute thing was they both had ponytails! They were facing each other and it just cried out for me to snap them but I was afraid of how they might react.
    What should I have done?
    Do people regard you as weird if you ask to take their photo?

  • Amrita May 3, 2013 09:07 pm

    Excellent insight! thanks.

  • Granny May 3, 2013 08:53 pm

    I agree with all 3 and wish I could be an expert like some of you .What does it take?Does one need to be hefting around all the camera paraphernalia?

  • Lorri May 3, 2013 08:36 pm

    #1 - I've carried a camera with me constantly since the early 80's. Granted, most were point and shoots back then, but hey, I captured some awesome memories with them. Now I have a smaller prosumer that goes everywhere, and my DSLR 'almost' everywhere. My friend tease me that it is 'growing out of my arm.'
    #2 - yes, I once was like this, but now, I will take photos of the initial subject, then go in for a closer look, landscapes for example, I get the big picture, then have fun focussing on the smaller details at my feet. Portraits, yes, I do the 'normal' then go in for detail again (hmm, I think I see a pattern . . . )
    #3 used to be my biggest problem. But, I am happy to report that in the last 9 or 10 months #3 has gone out the door, I don't really give a hoot any more what anyone thinks of me when I stop and get out my camera to take photos, I stop at the side of the road regularly (safely, of course) - I stand in the middle of town and shoot something that has caught my eye. And then I smile when I see someone else has stopped to do the same thing.

  • Crave May 3, 2013 08:33 pm

    I would like to do more street photography, but I live in a university town in the mid-west US. I dont want to have all the legal hassles, along with all the other BS that I can get from the people here.
    One girl tried to give me a hard time about taking her picture in a city scape. I told her that I was a professional and if she was not a model I did not need a model release. That is how dumb people are.

    I will stick to my landscapes and be happy.


  • Kathy May 3, 2013 08:19 pm

    OMG! I have framing paralysis! You hit the nail on the head! Not only do I worry about people being bothered by me taking pictures but I also worry that the pictures I take aren't good enough and that other's will view them as boring! So many times I talk myself out of capturing an image that I find interesting because I think no one else will appreciate my vision! You spoke to me here! thanks for this!

    Flickr: Morkumentary

    Would like some gentle critic or simply show some love.....

  • Aperture May 3, 2013 06:16 pm

    i agree, very informative topic - kaycee McNally

  • Jim McAnlis May 3, 2013 05:30 pm

    I do so agree, Jeffrey - There is a particular joy in meeting other photographers this way, sharing ideas and. We're a community who understand the 'weirdness' of each other. Never met a rude photographer yet!
    On the tips, 1 is my greatest problem. I like to travel light and I do have a fear of theft (happened once in Glascow!!) But I try to keep the camera in the car. On 3 - I have a particular joy taking shots from inaccessible places at angles that tourists would never think of - try the camera at the end of a monopod with a remote - amazing. Most people watch with amusement.

  • Jeffrey May 3, 2013 04:20 pm

    No offense Silva,
    But, I will go up to anyone (male or female old or young) who is shooting with a 600mm lens because it is
    not something I see every day. In fact I can not remember the last time I saw one out shooting.
    You know what they say "If you want to be left alone go were you are alone".
    I wish you more peaceful shootings!

  • Andy May 3, 2013 03:31 pm

    I agree with most of you.... Most important lesson learnt recently - "If you see a shot, turn around and go back for it NOW. Don't think it will still be there on the way back.

  • Dipanjan Mitra May 3, 2013 03:13 pm

    1. I think it is very important to read about photography going back to it's history. See photos of the greats. Most people are reluctant to give themselves time which is a must.
    2. Knowing the genre that one wants to click and work on it. To start with, like i did, try clicking anything and everything to have a strong grasp on the exposure, composition and framing.
    3. Knowing the basic rules is VERY IMPORTANT. One can then break them.
    3. Shoot almost on a regular basis. It helps to grow the confidence and also helps in self development.
    4. To click i feel it is very important to relax and not force yourself to take photos.
    5. Know one's limitation with respect to the equipments one has.
    6. Click for yourself more than anything. Remain focused when one is out with the camera. The eyes should be roving everywhere and anywhere.
    7. Last but not the least, make good photos is all that matters. And for that one has to work HARD, real HARD.


  • David Bloom May 3, 2013 02:20 pm

    How so true!!!
    I used to have my main camera with me until it was stolen from the car. Now my companion is the smartphone.
    Slowing down and taking the time to look is the hardest but most important.

  • CHiLLie May 3, 2013 01:23 pm

    that is why i dont like my dad being around me when im doing photography.. he always hang around me and telling me are you done?

  • Silva May 3, 2013 12:55 pm

    I always take a camera with me in the car unless I consciously give myself a break which I do for a mental rest from time to time, have been photographing for 38 years and I always shoot on manual.

    I now concentrate on wildlife and sometimes things get pretty speedy. I try most of the time to be well prepared, however I do get caught out with my settings from time to time and speed is usually the reason.

    The one that annoys me most is when I am using my 600mm lens and men can't help themselves but come over and comment, I don't give a dam what they think, I have had to wear all sorts of stupid comments over the years as a woman using heavy equipment, what I find most irritating is that it interferes with my subject matter or my concentration or both, so back off idiot, I want to be alone!

  • Brian Phillips May 3, 2013 12:32 pm

    ...Taking photos of the same subjects all the time. Try something you've never done before! Go shoot a kids soccer game or volunteer to shoot at a local charity event or try some long exposure night shots, or... anything you haven't tried. There are so many examples!

  • THEO May 3, 2013 10:33 am

    I was amused to see #3 on this list, and was all set to write a sarcastic reply--when, to my surprise, I see that a large number of people suffer from it. Strange; I can't even image worrying about what other people think of me taking their picture. Oh, of course, if someone indicates a reluctance to be photographed--holding a hand up, say, to block their face, or screaming and running away, or calling the police, or whatever--to be sure, I'll respect their space. But otherwise, well...if you're in plain view, then you're fair game.

    Not that I photograph people much, these days. I'm into Kite Aerial Photography now--and this is World Wide KAP Week! Check it out: http://www.flickr.com/groups/wwkapweekend/

    I've missed shots because of #1--most notably, a house fire that erupted just as I pulled up on my bike--so I've made it a rule to ALWAYS have my main camera (Sony a77) with me, even when I'm going out specifically to use other cameras. That is, to shoot in infrared or to do aerial photography. I don't think #2 applies to me, but I could just be fooling myself.

    The primary obstacle that I see blocking my improvement is a lack of time. I work 45-50 hours a week at a brutally hard job, and I usually can't go photographing more than one day a week. If I could put more time in to study technique and to practice that technique, I'm sure that I would greatly improve.

  • Jennifer Sherlock May 3, 2013 09:07 am

    Ref: people thinking I am photographing them scenario.
    I will ask first if I may.Majority of the times they are highly delighted.Sometimes they are envious that I am so courageous.I explain that my shots are for my album only but if they would like a copy to then supply me with an email address.
    Seldom do I get turned away.Three police officers sitting on an elevated bench waiting for their boots to be polished in down town the Big Apple said no.No worries said iFly aka granny.
    Granny enjoys photographing her grand daughter the most.If granny was a fly on grand daughter's home's wall she'll be stoked.She lives in Atlanta GA.IFly resides in Adelaide but I do fly and visit her and her ma and pa and dog often as soon as I build up my bottle tops collection!
    Finally,real friends marvel at my photos because granny gets a kick out of turning them into a book to present as a gift.I get told constantly to sell etc but seriously,it gives me so much pleasure why would I want to ruin it by the stress of "selling?".What do you think?

  • Michael martin May 3, 2013 09:04 am

    Many people are afraid of legal uncertainties; May I suggest you make the following article know to your readers.
    'Photographers Rights in NSW' by Andrew Nemeth. Andrew is a ex lawyer come photographer, so he is on the money with his article.
    I have personally been challenged three times about taking photos in public. I carry a copy of this article with me and freely give one, or produce it when challenged.
    It is usually 'ignorance' that causes these issues in the first place, but can be very difficult arguing with such an individual.

  • Omar Spence May 3, 2013 08:25 am

    I'd say number three, specifically the concern about how people would react to me taking their picture. In my country people are either camera happy or hostile.

    I have even been confronted by an ignorant individual who thought his car was in my frame when I was taking a wide angle shot of a town square. This one is a tough one to get over given the concern for personal safety.

  • Jeffrey May 3, 2013 07:52 am

    " The light just is not good today " That is one that I have run into alot this spring. We have had almost three months in a row of gray days. Not dynamic cloudy but gray,hazy and drab light. I just push myself out the door, go to the zoo, go to an event, go to a conservatory or museum.
    But it is HHHHHHard!

  • Joseph Hearst May 3, 2013 07:45 am

    The first step in creating innovative images is to find exciting subjects in unlikely places and to recognize extraordinary images where others see ordinary objects. To find innovative images, I pay attention to my surroundings. I try to cultivate what Freeman Patterson calls “the art of seeing.” He quotes Monet: “In order to see, we must forget the name of the object we are looking at.” If one does that, the composition becomes more important than the object. Patterson goes on: “Your ability to see is not increased by the distance you put between yourself and your home. If you do not see what is all around you every day, what will you see when you go to Tangiers?”.

    I always carry a camera – that’s easier now with the advent of iPhones. I have trained my eye to look for possible compositions wherever I go, as I walk or drive past things. The interesting objects may be very small – rust spots on the arm of a bench, for example. They may not easily fit a vertical or horizontal format, one may have to rotate the camera. I make a point of looking down – colorful curbs and grates in the street may make good compositions. I look everywhere: light shining through a tumbler on the kitchen windowsill and reflecting on a white counter; a reflecting metal plate in an airport terminal; standpipes on the side of a building; an urn in the doorway of a chain restaurant; shadows of leaves on a colorful wall; even a bag in the street. I was on a landscape workshop in the Palouse and we drove past a decaying combine. I begged the leader to stop and we all got great shots. Another time in the Palouse I saw rusted cars behind a Subway, stopped there and got a picture that, with a little work, became a cover of the Journal. On a cruise in Alaska the ship stopped in Petersburg and while most of the passengers went into town I wandered around the harbor and found a lovely rusted faucet. Anything goes.

    I also look for buildings that the casual observer might just admire from a distance, but become more exciting when studied through a viewfinder. I can find brightly-painted homes, each a different color from its neighbors, in many parts of the world, from my home base of San Francisco to Venice or Oaxaca. Sometimes I can show one colorful building flanked by portions of one or two others of contrasting color, to make it even more interesting. I spent a day in the nearby beach resort of Capitola and found some great reflections in colorful buildings there. It just takes paying attention. While in a taxi in New York I saw some great shadows on a blue building and made the driver stop.

    I make a point of going to art galleries and looking at the photos on display there. Generally they would not be accepted in PSA-sanctioned exhibitions, but they can give me good ideas and also inform my judging

    I find flat light best unless there are interesting shadows that make good compositions in themselves. I carry a close-up filter for small objects. I usually work on the images after I have shot them. I clone out distractions, move objects that don’t look like they are in the right place, and often play with the colors. There are filters for Photoshop that can improve the originals, and I don’t hesitate to use them.

    The most important thing of all is to be flexible, and take what the world gives you at the moment.

  • Sverdloff May 3, 2013 07:31 am

    Number 3 struck home with me.
    I am extremely afraid of what people will think if i am out snapping a scene.
    What is worse is if I am with friends who think of my photographic passion as a 'hobby' and shouldnt be intruding on that social event or whatever.

    Social anxiety at the max i fear.

  • Brian May 3, 2013 07:07 am

    As someone that is fairly new to photography, I would say the first 2 are the ones I am most guilty of. I tend to not think about taking photos when I am out unless that is the specific reason I am going out for. Therefore, I usually don't take my camera with me most places. Also, I do tend to be that 'snap and go" type of person when I am taking photos. However, I have been more acutely aware of that as I have been becoming more familiar with photography.

  • Frank Simon May 3, 2013 06:46 am

    To solve the "framing paralysis", just drink 1-2 beers before you start shooting. It will relax you as well and you'll even be more creative.

  • Diane Bohlen May 3, 2013 06:45 am

    Reading the manual helps. I'm surprised how many don't.

  • Tiberman Sajiwan Ramyead May 3, 2013 05:34 am

    After nearly 3 years of DSLR photography, I think I have graduated from infancy, childhood and now to adolescence. The 3 points are refreshing and I would add one aspect to point 2: when you have found what you want to shoot, ask yourself this question sincerely: WHAT EXACTLY IS MY SUBJECT? If you can't answer that to youself, think, think, think!

  • Sandi Murdock May 3, 2013 05:19 am

    Great reminders! An additional tip I would add, along the line of #3, is to stop worrying so much about trying to make your photos match what everyone else is producing, and go out and find your own vision and point-of-view. We all see the world in a different way, don't be afraid to let that come through with what you frame and capture with the camera.

  • John Longmire May 3, 2013 05:12 am

    I was verbally accosted by a homeless guy in Washington DC. I was taking a shot of a really awesome architectural sculpture with vines woven into it. I had no idea I was taking a picture of his living room. He came walking at me shaking his finger and telling me not to take his picture. I was too busy looking at the camera to notice the guy approaching. Altogether tho, it was a pretty good picture with some urban fauna.

  • Brute May 3, 2013 05:10 am

    Found it interesting what the first commenter said.. weird positions, leaning against walls, climbing up walls, lying on the ground, etc... when people look at me funny, I get good photos. If you never change an angle, you will have very similar photos. I think one learn this the best if one tries some food photography. You can take 100 photos of a dish from the same direction, with the same result. Then when you realize that, you can take 100 photos more from different angles... yet only a handful angles will look good.

    Same with so many other things... landscape, portrait, sports, etc...

  • Wayne Howard May 3, 2013 05:09 am

    A simple improvement was given me years ago. He called it the 5 step approach. Many people take one photo from one spot and then go on. Instead, after taking the initial shot, take one step forward, one step back, one step to the left, and one step to the right. You could expand this idea by adding squat down and then find something to stand on (or at least raise your camera over you head).
    By the way, don't try this at the Grand Canyon or in a tall building!

  • Patricia Burns May 3, 2013 05:04 am

    Possibly my favorite article I've yet to read on this fantastic site. Thank you!!

  • Anne Bruyere May 3, 2013 05:03 am

    I got over the freeze 2 different ways. My kids were in a percussion ensemble and I became the official photographer....imagine photographing 30 high school age kids without getting a reaction???? The other thing that got me over it was a neighbor of mine. One evening I was out on my porch photographing our beautiful Colorado sunset which happened to be in his direction. He thought I was taking his picture and called the police on me for invading his privacy. It made me so mad that I proceeded to go out every nite and take pictures in his direction.

  • Debb Briggs May 3, 2013 04:59 am

    Trying to copy other photographers "style" instead of sticking to (and accepting) your own.
    I look at hundreds of photographers websites, oohh and ahhh at their photos then try to replicate them myself. I am never happy with the outcome. When I revert to my simple, straightforward, almost traditional photography style, I am much happier with the outcome.

  • aliya May 3, 2013 04:54 am

    There is one major issues in our country like Pakistan. The security issue....you just cant take out your valuable pricely camera along with you all the time because you know it would be snatched :( so i avoid doing so though I would love to carry it with me wherever i go..but just not possible. Im sure there must be some other countries facing the same issue.

  • Sean McCormick May 3, 2013 04:53 am

    I always fall down at number two. Always. My best images often happen after those moments where I close my eyes, smell the air, feel the breeze, and just lose myself in what is happening around me without allowing myself to be overwhelmed by visual preconceptions.

    In regards to number one, I have found that a small camera with a larger sensor is the best compromise for portability. I can't say enough about my Canon G1-X. It works for me, although I am sure there are comparable similar cameras on the market now that can do the same or better. For those interested in the G1-X, I offer the following:


  • Jayrald Malong May 3, 2013 04:50 am

    ahm ... well there is one thing that holds me back ... it is because they tease me that i am not a photographer if i am not using a DSLR... but i got over it and proved my self worthy even if i only use my phone or my digi cam :D

  • Arturomar May 3, 2013 04:44 am

    Well Darren, now you have more than three people.

    Simple but great article. Thank you again.

  • NIcholas Cooper May 3, 2013 04:43 am

    I recently bought a Canon 60D plus two Sigma lenses and a Canon 50mm F1.8. So why am I not using them? Good question, Firstly I suppose I have lost that magic feeling of taking pictures, secondly, carrying these SLRs are heavy, still a poor excuse. There is a lot to be said for a small compact for ease of carrying
    but I don't even do that!!! Your article has given me a kickstart.Thank you

  • Jim May 3, 2013 04:39 am

    You nailed it.....
    Carrying camera and lens bag around is cumbersome.

  • Steve Koshlap May 3, 2013 04:25 am

    I'm not sure if this is an additional point, or a composite of the article's three: Shooting the easy, obvious shot instead of taking the time and maybe looking foolish, to find the unusual, the interesting, the story-telling shot.

  • Serena May 3, 2013 04:17 am

    I agree a lot on the three points but I think the 3rd one is the most difficult one. And I'd add that the fear of what other can think is also after the shoot: we give sometime too much weight on the opinion of others on our photos, we would like eveyone to like them. And sometime we should maybe have a critic eye and not to be scared to be "judged" .

  • Paula May 3, 2013 03:54 am

    I'm SO guilty of number 2!! I get a nervous-anxiety that I'm slowing down whomever I'm with (I take mostly landscape photography - no studio work). I can be pretty chill/relaxed if I'm just with my husband but if anyone else is around it's like my brain doesn't work. I need to find a way to get over this.

  • Marcus Davis May 3, 2013 03:26 am

    I was really worried about number 3 until I went to New York City and did some street photography. I found that New Yorkers were almost conditioned not to look at you.

    I shot with a 50mm so it wasn't a huge, noticeable lens. I also think that if you go to fairs, festivals, etc where people expect to see cameras, it may help with confidence as well.


  • Ed M May 3, 2013 02:59 am

    I have a problem with people around getting "weird". Maybe something in the water, but seriously I don't have an answer.

  • Gary Duerr May 3, 2013 02:54 am

    I'm badly surprised when I find out that people don't "get" their equipment or photography. I'm a "why" guy & if I can understand how a thing works & know what is happening, I can usually figure it out. I'm stymied by recepies & lists & am prone to know nothing new from just following them blindly.
    Besides, if you want to be original, recipies don't work! I have the highest respect for people who know what they intend to do, what their equipment is capable of & can bring that to any situation.

  • Bob May 2, 2013 11:21 pm

    I used to work in a very popular tourist area and it used to drive me crazy watching people walking and taking pictures at the same time without taking the time to STOP and take the picture. On occasion I would make them stop and then take a new one. "You came all the way to Boston, stop, and take it in and take your pictures so that when you get home you do not have a disk of blur."

  • Harry May 2, 2013 04:15 am

    I like to take pictures, there is no fear in taking the shots. But I hardly dare to show them, as I usually will hear they are junk and I should not show them. I should feel ashamed for showing them. And so on. This without telling me what I could do to improve.

  • Kristel May 2, 2013 03:11 am

    This is good list indeed, but I think for me one more important little thing is lazyness to learn theory - I should read more articles and tips. I do watch pictures and EXIF-s (if possible), I practice by myself (yeah, I could do more...), but sometimes you just need more theory, tips and ideas - so you could try more new things and to practice.. and improve more quickly!

  • Pat Kehoe May 2, 2013 12:53 am

    Interesting that you should write about this issue right now. I am a fairly recent addition to the photography community and just last Sunday I attended a rally protesting the selling off of the timber harvesting rights of the Irish State Forests. I was shooting away merrily when I was approached by a Mother who complained that I had taken a photograph of her little girl and insisted that I delete it. I was very embarassed and of course deleted it immediately. This experience will make me very wary taking pictures in public in the future.

  • Samara May 1, 2013 09:31 pm

    This may seem like a really inane question to most of you, but in regards to #1, I bought my first real camera a week ago (it's been an iPhone until now) and I try to take it with me whenever I go out, but I'm worried about damaging it. I don't particularly feel like swapping my favourite handbag for a camera bag full time, but I'm currently wrapping it in a scarf because the camera pocket I bought off the internet seems useless. I'm just curious what other women are carrying their cameras in? Is it in your handbag or have you managed to find a really good looking camera bag?

  • GradyPhilpott May 1, 2013 03:00 pm

    Not knowing your equipment.

  • H. William Lewis May 1, 2013 01:19 pm

    For those of you that are afraid of what others will think of your images, remember these words of wisdom from a weekend Nikon School I attended years ago, "A photographer is known by what they show, not what they take" Show your best, forget the rest!

  • Danny May 1, 2013 12:54 pm

    I used to suffer from #3... Then one day it just hit me...Who cares.. Even without my camera, someones not going to like my hat, or what I order for lunch, so why worry about taking photographs... Its my life...

  • Diana May 1, 2013 08:47 am

    This is a very informative article. I buy all my cameras and equipment through http://www.cameraroom.net because they have the best video reviews. Hope this helps.

  • Allison May 1, 2013 07:28 am

    Great advice - and it's not rocket science. However, I have to agree with number three. I have a hard enough time being the center of attention as it is - I hate being stared at. So when I bring my camera with me, people are definitely staring and I freeze up. My impression is that people think it's silly to have a big camera with you all the time.

    Something else that holds me back is weather. I live in Michigan - we just had a 6 month long winter. It's very difficult to find the motivation and inspiration in crappy, cold weather. I did get a few good shots but not like I would hope to in the spring/summer/fall. Things are just more beautiful during those seasons - and warmer.

    Tips I would give to myself :
    Who cares what others think??!! If this is a passion, go for it and don't worry about "offending" or "bothering" others.
    Suck it up, cupcake! Get out in the cold, crappy weather and stop complaining. There will always be a million excuses NOT to do something. Find the ONE excuse to get out and do it!

  • Jeremy Brooks May 1, 2013 06:36 am

    This is a good article. I would like to add one thing: Challenge yourself!

    Committing to a specific photo challenge or project is one of the things that has helped me always have my camera with me. I have been shooting the challenges at photochallenge.org for years now (Note: I am now an author for that site) and it has been a hugely motivating to get out and shoot even on days when I didn't feel like it.

  • Angelos Ballao September 21, 2012 02:12 pm

    Damn, I'm always afraid of taking photos near someone. The reason why is because of the fact that they will look at me like I'm retarded or something. Lol, if I had a compact Point-And-Shoot camera, I don't look like a photographer to most people. However, if I use an Advanced DSLR camera such as the Canon Mark series with an external flash, tripod, and huge lens, then people would think of me as a photographer.

    Still, I'm afraid of taking photos near someone or in a crowded place. I really need a photography buddy with me, but apparently, none of my friends loves photography :(

  • Casey May 20, 2012 01:03 am

    framing paralysis - hit it right on the nail with me, alot of it in my case has to do with being self concious, but there is still that little linger from the fear we all shared during 9/11. some people think me very suspious when i photograph a bridge, or park at a near by airport and photograh planes taking off and landing, people now days think you're a terrorist and call the police on you, i know if you're not doing anything wrong there is nothing to worry about, but it does become a hassle

  • Rich McKee March 21, 2012 01:40 am

    Definately know what you mean about being shy. Also that's not just taking the image but sharing the photos to in my opinion.

  • Raelara February 5, 2012 01:01 pm

    Reason 3 is my biggest hurdle. Last time I pointed a camera in the general direction of someone who was not a friend or family member, that person physically assaulted me and the police got involved. It has scarred me quite a bit and made me afraid to even get my camera out if there are people around.

  • Dodie January 31, 2012 12:33 am

    I have a workaround for situations 1 & 3, get a nice point and shoot camera that you can easily carry around, in my case I got a Canon G12. Now this camera isn't exactly pocket sized but it is sure a lot more portable and less conspicuous than a DSLR, plus it allows me to use manual controls at some level. So its size solves the problem of not being able to lug your camera around, how about framing paralysis? That is where the G12's swivel screen comes into play, that way I can shoot with the camera not positioned at the usual eye level, sometimes I even shoot in right angles. Being inconspicuous like that helped me build my confidence in focusing on taking the shot and less on what other people might think.

  • M Ragon January 30, 2012 01:20 pm

    I enjoyed your article. Last spring I went to a location workshop with Bryan Peterson. Watching the confidence with which he stood in the street or wherever and got the shots he wanted was amazing. He just plopped down his tripod, set up the shot, and focused, ignoring anyone who might be watching. Now, with the group of 7 photographers we had it was easy for me to do the same, but I think I brought home a little of that attitude after it was over. Much better to take your time, set up the shot properly than to just jump out of your car and hand hold while firing off a few so-so shots. Way better.

  • Miss Ann January 24, 2012 05:17 am

    Great read and yes #3 is my biggest hangup but it's getting better. Yesterday I stood and took a pic of my mailbox...couple cars went by but I stayed focused on that little red flag.

  • Dann January 1, 2012 06:19 am

    The third one really is a big deal for a lot of people. I admit I still get that feeling from time to time but have learned to ignore it and go back to shooting.

    One thing that really helped me get over it was taking my camera into a crowded city setting during a festival and focusing on taking candid shots of people. Not people I knew either because that doesn't really help the feeling at all. It was awkward at times, I got some weird glances here and there but for the most part frankly no one really cares what you're doing.

  • GB December 31, 2011 03:44 pm

    Yeah, you are right. I always put camera on bag, but always don't stop to shot...

  • Manjt December 31, 2011 03:33 pm

    I totally agree with these reasons. Many times you have to look at the same scene from several different angles to find the best shot. The camera is a photographer's third and flexible eye. It gives you a chance to see and show the world from a unique perspective. Don't hesitate to kneel/bend/tilt to find your best shot!

  • osJJ December 31, 2011 11:27 am

    Here in Singapore you see TONS of people carrying DSLRs. I often see them moving at an unnatural pace through a place like the Botanic Gardens looking from left to right with a trained look on their faces. Clearly their purpose in being there is to come back with good photos, but the whole seen looks unnatural and uncomfortable. They don't seem to be enjoying the gardens. If they happen to see children, a sort of wild desperation comes into their eyes as they try to quickly zoom in on a family scene, get the "cute kid" shot and then move off before anyone can notice. Of course, this is only a subset, but a memorable subset.

    I admit that my observation of the above has contributed to my suffering from reason #3.

  • Jay December 31, 2011 04:17 am

    Try taking photos (frequently) with your phone at first. Then switch to your camera more and more.

  • John December 31, 2011 03:25 am

    Reason number 1 reminds me of a photographer's answer to what is the best camera. His answer "The one you have when you need to take a picture".

  • sacjain December 30, 2011 06:00 pm

    I face 3rd one a lot.......only the 3rd one ...but now I think I'll go through it... :)

  • ccting December 30, 2011 10:27 am

    Dear Darwin,
    I really like the pattern breaker composition of the pics in this article. I told Grace about this when i comment in the critique section for baby, but she just disagreed with the pattern at background. Again, the pattern at the back does not distract attention, but emphasis the subject - the photographer..

  • ccting December 30, 2011 10:25 am

    Dear Darren,
    I agree with you totally... ;D and that looks like me ;D. But I believe another important causal reason: equipment. Without equipment especially lighting equipment, I can't really go into practice. ;D

  • Brian DeMint December 30, 2011 07:04 am

    I love the idea of the article and would just like to expand a bit with my own thoughts... I don't necessarily agree with #1 about actually carrying a camera around... because I am a fashion photographer only... but I agree with the general thought that your mindset should be on your art... so instead of carrying a camera I use my phone to write down ideas when something grabs my attention...

    #2 and #3 are very true... and I am very guilty of #2 (that sounds weird, sorry)

    I would also like to add... Some people do not improve because they don't feel they need to... they love everything they shoot no matter how disgusting... lol... but those photographers will not be reading that because this site has the word "school" in it's URL

    ...and I would like to echo the above comment about study, study, study... I am very guilty of not knowing much technical data, however, I try to make up for that on the artistic side... quit looking sideways at what your competition across town is doing, look upward... study the masters... know the elements and principles of design... etc...

    Anyway.... this is a brilliant topic...

  • Jai Catalano December 30, 2011 06:08 am

    Great and so true. I am somewhat guilty of the 1st one but that is because I have 2 very young kids and need another hand. I have taken it with me a lot more lately and I am happy that I did.

  • SteveG December 30, 2011 04:06 am

    Great article and great responses! I am inhibited by all three! Numbers 1 & 3 are a combined inhibitor for me. I am embarassed to bring my camera with me everywhere because i'm afraid of what other people will think, and many times i then realize 'i should have brought my camera'. I move way too fast when it comes to taking pictures on the scene. i DO need to stop, think, imagine and plan a bit more before i start shooting. I think the reason i move to fast is because recently my most frequent subject is my toddler who moves fast and keeps me 'on my toes'.

  • Zero-Equals-Infinity December 30, 2011 03:49 am

    Look with your eyes, feel with your gut, exclude what distracts, and change things up a lot.

    There are many aspects to photography, and most of us concentrate on a selected subset. No problem with that within limits, but, there is a need to work outside the wire, to try things, most of which will fail, but some of which will add to my pallet of choices.

    Learn classical composition, including rule of thirds, golden mean, use of light and shadow to create depth and dimensionality. And then practice. Look at shots that you know are great images. Try to emulate them, (for purposes of learning how the image was realised.) Ask why is this image powerful, beautiful, fascinating, crazy cool, et cetera. If you have the opportunity to talk to the artist, ask about how they recognised the potential or imagined the final result, and what they went through to get it. Learn about colour theory, and why and how colours can complement or distract. Take a course, (there are lots of free online ones. Take time to learn, and do so through reading, practicing, and playing.

    Be passionate, always carry a camera, shoot deliberately and thoughtfully, slow down, impose a limitation, (such as I will only use my 50 mm prime today, or I will only shoot 100 images on this outing.) The idea is to stretch yourself creatively. Lastly, be open like a child who does not know what new and wondrous thing will greet around the next corner. Otherwise, at best you will capture the same ho-hum image, time after time.

  • Nicki McManus December 30, 2011 03:42 am

    I was just reading this, and thought I'd share my most common mistake, that keeps me from trying new ideas I've had in the back of my head. The most glaring mistake I make is being in a hurry- day to day life, and needing to be there yesterday, does not make me want to take a little extra time. I carry my camera with me 90% of the time, and when I do see a great photo op that I could try some new things on, I tend to just shoot it in the same way- the way I'm comfortable with, the fastest way. I regret this later, when I'm looking at my images at post process, and the old - would've, could've. should've - steps in.
    What I do to overcome this is to remind mysefl...really, get a grip! The scene struck me enough to stop, would it really be life or death to take another 10 minutes to get the shot I wanted to take? After all, if my life has come down to not having a spare 10 minutes, maybe I should rethink some things. After all, what makes us grow in our photography, is to try new things, think outside of our own box, and see where it will all lead.

  • lambertwm October 8, 2011 02:45 am

    Is there anybody here whose photography does not improve? lol

  • Mark McKnight September 3, 2011 04:53 am

    Something I find that holds beginner photographers back is trying to get creative with a DSLR too quickly. Concentrate on getting good composition in your photos and good lighting. Don't worry about Aperture priority mode or Shutter priority mode too soon. Composition is more important in the beginning. These semi-manual modes just improve on your composition later on.

  • Martyn Holden July 11, 2011 01:58 pm

    I was told the other day that I should carry my camera at all times, and when I am among others I should definitely where it around my neck. This way people that see you on and off will associate me with the camera. As I make my way around I pass out a few cards to people I talk to, and soon enough once one picture is taken the rest are at ease..
    I try to do some pictures of the life on the down town street, but that is few and far between.

  • Fotoman July 11, 2011 04:52 am

    You're completely right! Because that i have developed for me the 52-pics-concept: Each week one good or (for me) important picture i first publish on my website "www.52pics.net", then i will make printouts for an exhibition (in late summer or fall).

    Overthere i give a little explanation why i choosed this picture ;german, but with possibility of (sometimes strange ;-) automatic translation. Comments welcome, twitter @52pics and @oberlehrer

  • Muzamil Rahman July 6, 2011 09:22 pm

    Yeah I'm a victim of the third reason. I have my camera with me but I rarely shoot because I always start thinking what the people might be thinking. Thanks for this article

  • Blue Sky Photography June 30, 2011 09:54 am

    It can be hard in some situations that perhaps you are not comfortable or confident in. As long as you are not disrespecting someone or there is no danger in getting your camera out it really does not matter what others think. Even as someone who does it for a living I still feel it at times, but when I do I just think of the reward of seeing the shot on my wall :)

    I think people find it hard to photograph other people because they lack confidence in their abilities. If you want to photograph people or locations with lots of people around put your fears aside and respect your subject! Once you do these 2 simple things your photography will improve dramatically!

    Photographers in Australia have enough restrictions without us placing them on ourselves :)

    Best of luck to you all.

  • Vern June 29, 2011 06:48 am

    When my three kids were young, I would always have my camera out. I would look at the settings and think of the changes I could make to get different pictures. The kids saw me with my camera so much that when I wanted to get pictures of them, they didn't know if I was playing with the camera or not. It makes things much simpler. Many thanks to everyone

  • Desirée June 28, 2011 01:50 am

    @Martha: just do it! Perhaps you can go at a time or day when there's not many people around, like maybe lunch time on a work day. or dinner time, so that you will not feel embarassed or exposed.
    I know exactly what you mean, though. I recently went to a local cemetary to shoot, because I love the atmosphere there. And people do look at you rather strangely, because they feel it's morbid or something to shoot at cemetaries. But I just try to ignore them and do my own thing. And for you, with the flags, that's a great opportunity. I just went when there's nothing much to see, except for headstones... If someone asks, you can always tell them it's for some assignment or something. Good luck!!!

  • Martha June 27, 2011 01:07 am

    # 1 and # 3 definitely apply to me. I'm new to serious photography and there's a picture I want to take of American flags waving in the breeze at a local cemetary. This photo opportunity is only available annually from Memorial day to July 4th. I'm afraid that if I take a tripod I'll look pretentious or stupid.

  • Chris June 26, 2011 09:14 pm

    taking your camera with you is an easy one to overcome, especially if you have sonething small, which is why the micro 4/3 systems are great. But simply taking your camera with you is an easy one anyway.

    Slowing down caan be a little harder, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.

    Worrying what people think can be a real challenge for some people. but again, the more often you do something, the less you'll worry. You'll notice that actually, people don't care, and if they do care, it's usually because they're interested.

  • Alex da Veiga June 26, 2011 07:27 am

    I belive that one of the things that can hold back the improvement is the lack of sharing, and like somebody said before, the "friendly" evaluation of the work. I think that the solution to stop worrying about what other people think is to start shooting in places where people will really think about what you are doing(like subway), then when you hit the other spots you will feel like no one care.

  • Migdal June 26, 2011 04:02 am

    I'm totally guilty!
    Thanks for the advice! I needed to be reminded that photography is about doing and not wanting to do!

  • Julie L June 25, 2011 11:32 pm

    #3 I have always had at least slight social phobia, and with a camera it really adds to it. Basically I am scared of 'Strangers' to begin with, let alone having a camera near them. this is a huge challenge for me, and im trying to work on it, but its slow progress. Uggghh! as for not being a 'real ' photographer, pfft. theres plenty of things to take pictures of without taking pictures of people in the street!

  • Richard Hannapple June 25, 2011 11:56 am

    Think photography,even when you don't have your camera with you. When you see a scene that has great composition keep it in mind or make note of it. Go back to that scene at sunrise or sunset .Try the shot in different lighting and even a change of season.The results will be worth it.

  • Alejandra June 25, 2011 04:21 am

    well, I think that number 3 is just fear, if you want the image you'll just have to overcome it, if you don't you're missing your hability to capture the images you want. As photographers, we have to take risks, and as humans too, no one has achieve much from being afraid and not doing the things they would like too...
    And Heather, sometimes it's easier to apologize than ask for permission ;)

    For me, it's sometimes very difficult to get the images i would like, I live in Venezuela, and here if you go out to the streets of Caracas, unless your like with 7 armed guys, its most probably youll get robed, and that's a chance I just can't take... :(

  • Heather B June 25, 2011 03:40 am

    I'm guilty mostly of #3 with regard to street photography - sometimes you want to capture someone or a moment between people on film and you know it will not be "real" if you ask them if you can take the picture, but you can't really take the picture without asking as that is kind of an invasion of privacy. So, I don't really venture there - what are your thoughts on this? Also, do you have a ready-made waiver and have you ever asked someone if you could post their likeness on the web, etc. I'm talking about strangers here.

    If anyone has any input I'd love to hear it! ...afraid to invade in Ohio

  • George Johnson June 24, 2011 04:50 pm

    When I can't take my camera I am always trying to look for interesting compositions. I used to take the undergound ( subway ) direct to my office, now I jump off two or three stops earlier and walk 2 miles to work through the city and I just observe people and places, see hoe they change from day to day. Been walking the same route for 6 months and every time I can guarantee I will something new I never noticed before!

    Visit your local art galleries and see what painters and other artists do for composition and colour, the great photographer Micheal Freeman often cites traditional art as a great source to discover composition and colour. If you can't go, there are plenty of online art galleries to get ideas. Just studying a few of the great masters of painting really gives you some great ideas.

    I used to worry about looking stupid, now I actually enjoy being different. I takes nerve but sometimes you get something really sensational. The other day I took my kitchen clock to the local woods for a shoot, the strange looks I got made me feel quite good. You will find that after a while people will copy you, which is hilarious! You turned up and look at the scene, get some ideas walk around, then set up, do something stupid like lie on the floor or squat down. You finish up and move away, next thing 2 other people will jump on your spot and try to fathom out what's so great about it, see them thinking, "He's got one of those big professional looking cameras, he must know what he's doing, so we'll copy him!".

    No matter where I am with a camera, when people start looking at me funny I tell myself, "I am out being creative today. I will create something from nothing, something that I hope I can be truly proud of. You people looking at me funny, what will you have achieved when you get home tonight?".

  • Darcey June 24, 2011 09:08 am

    I agree with all 3! I do not suffer from number 3, because when I get in photographer mode, everyone else is tuned out. But I am definitely a common casualty of 1 and 2. I also hold back on sharing my photos, because I never know if they are good enough (I'm my own worst critic), and never feel that they would be good enough to share, or sell for that matter. I think that another thing that holds people back from getting better, is trying to tackle too many shot types when out shooting. But to control this, keep in mind what kind of shots you want to take for the day, and set yourself up when arriving at your first location with regards to your light levels, apeture, shutter etc.

    My main problem is when I look at photos at home at 100%, they never seem to be sharp enough, and I know that I have all of my setting right, but I always get a hazy glow around the edges of objects. Drives me craaazzzy, and I end up hiding all of those pics for myself.

  • DragonFLy June 20, 2011 08:50 am

    No matter how many pictures I take (lots) I need to get them off the card!

  • Photo Course Advisor June 20, 2011 05:24 am

    My main reasons for not improving my photography skills are:

    1) Allowing my lack of a good DSLR at the moment to stop me from capturing images with whatever I have (point and shoot or iPhone)

    2) Forgetting the fun of looking for images to capture and instead rushing through each day's routine without photography being a high priority.

    Ironically, while I'm awaiting the opportunity to get a new DSLR, I could probably improve my photography skills immensely just by forcing myself to work with what I have. Creating great images with the point and shoot or iPhone could be a fabulously challenging and rewarding experience. I've made the mistake of forgetting that I'm really a photographer at heart, whether or not I'm a DSLR owner at the moment!

  • Jeffrey Blake Adams June 19, 2011 11:41 pm

    Agree with those reasons, I would add, once you get past #3, then not getting HONEST critiques, would be the next reason. We can fall in love with an image that everyone else will immediately see the problems in, so honest unbiased critiques with no "feelings hurt" but a desire for improvement is vital.

    After that, eye level titis that seems to mess up many people's photos, get high, get low, try different angles on purpose.

  • moe2244 June 19, 2011 12:13 pm

    Couldn't agree more. I'm trying to remember to take the camera with me.
    I also enrolled in a couple of photography courses at a community college in our town and that has helped.
    Getting some constructive critiques helps....after the sting is gone...lol.
    Getting out with other photographers helps in that you get another perspective.
    I'm tickled that my wife is interested now. So we both have cameras. It's interesting to notice how we see things differently ;-)

  • Sherry June 18, 2011 05:56 am

    I have been guilty of all three. I am currently shopping for my first DSLR, as I am going to start freelancing and submitting to stock photography sites. I purchased your ebook and this web site has been very helpful already!

    Seems to me, that an articulating viewfinder would be very helpful with #3. Wouldn't that allow a photog to take a shot while seeming to onlookers not be focused in their direction? I am going to make that a prerequisite for my first DSLR!

    Regardless, I think it is only good manners to offer your business card to anyone looking at you suspiciously and offer to send them a free copy of the photo. Plus, it is a way to drive more traffic to your web site, make new friends, and shatter people's suspicions about your photographic motives.

  • Sharon June 17, 2011 09:47 pm

    Since studying for a BA in Photography, my approach has changed considerably. I used to place too much emphasis on attempting to create great stand alone images. Yet many of the photographers I admire, work in series with many good images that collectively, work very powerfully. Photography provides a visual language, a tool to communicate and bring us closer together. Taking a less modernist approach to photography, and embracing its true potential allows us the freedom to have fun with it. In my opinion, it is photography's democracy that makes it such a fantastic art form. I totally agree with all three of Darren's points - make it part of the everyday.

  • Richard Baughman June 17, 2011 11:53 am

    A few other simple things I remind myself:

    1) The best photo may be just behind you (or above) - look around and behind you periodically. As my flight instructor used to say, "put your head on a swivel".

    2) Investigate that interesting pathway/alley, step up on something - go a little off the beaten path. On a recent trip to Greece, I kept investigating, pushing myself to go a little farther than I would normally go and I sometimes found a great opportunity just around the corner.

  • Gary Whitton June 15, 2011 10:50 am

    I think there is probably a 4th one out there, involving critical analysis of what you have already photographed, as well as what others have taken, and seeing how you might improve. A willingness accept critical feedback is another.

  • Sue June 13, 2011 10:26 pm

    Unfortunately, I am also guilty of #1, but have recently purchased a decent camera phone so that at least I can start somewhere. I think that the more I use it, the more I may be inclined to remember to bring my "real" camera everywhere I go.

  • Werner June 13, 2011 08:17 pm

    I carry my camera with me most of the time but a different spin on point 3 makes me hesitant to haul it out and start taking photos: (In/)security.
    Insecurity: I'm sure that a DSLR aiming here and there has the locals either posing or hiding but in some instances I'm sure they may be scheming to acquire said DSLR by illicit means. Whilst I'm peering through the view finder I worry about what is happening "out-of-view".
    Security: Again whilst waving DSLR around, another threat is security personnel deeming it inappropriate and either confiscating your camera or memory card or both.

  • juan acevedo June 13, 2011 02:58 pm

    1.One thing that stops people is the lack of shooting out of auto mode.
    2. Take shots in every mode you have on the camera. You may be surprised at your camera and your abilities.

  • Patricia June 13, 2011 11:47 am

    I am part of the guilty group here. I've learned alot from this website just by reading and practicing on my own. I've never had classes or instruction and I am self taught. The problem is forgetting my camera and not treating my camera as my precious new baby, learning everything there is to know.

  • Eder June 13, 2011 03:54 am

    1.They think the race was won by the "HORSE", not by the "RIDER"

    2.I've seen pretty impresing photography, out of the crapiest cameras avaible, as of now, almost any camera can take amazing light and colour, you just have to frame and press a button to have a nice creation, although you might have to move/shake/twist/crawl/run/feel/kneel/lay/jump/ to get something nice to frame on your viewfinder/screen....!!

  • Betty June 11, 2011 01:08 pm

    The only one of these I could possible be guilty of is two because I get made fun of for taking it with us for a mere shopping trip down the road and three I really don't care I've been asked seriouly you just took a pic of the juice you finished drinking so um yeah hehhee.

  • Louis June 10, 2011 08:16 am

    im a new photographer aslo still studying at high school. i really like photograph, its very impress with me when i was a kid. but in my situation, its hard to always bring my camera with me and improve skill. but sometime when my school have event, that would be perfect for me, because i can bring the camera and practice.

  • Chandira June 10, 2011 07:52 am

    Oh good, I have one and two sorted, still working on number 3! :-) It is like anything else in life, practice, practice, practice.. Until you can do it in your sleep. I always have at least 2 cameras on me.

    I have been more serious about photography for about 18 months now, and can see a vast improvement in that time. Not all my shots are good, but the over all pattern is less I delete, and more I get compliments on, and I have less time with the camera on autopilot. I am gaining confidence, and that helps a lot.

  • Sebastian June 10, 2011 04:22 am

    Since few year ago I don't get out with out any sort of camera, call it DSLR, point and shoot or video and yes sometimes it's hard to stop and take a pic every block because you won't get there on time, but if I see a good pic, most of the time I take it. What really stop me from taking a picture sometimes is shooting on strangers. Pictures where just a few people I don't know are the main subject. Even though they are doing whatever called my attention in public, but I feel like invading their privacy and just make me shy loosing the shot. Ain't happen all the time, but sometimes you would have taken a good one and let it go.

  • Sebastian June 10, 2011 04:21 am

    Since few year ago I don't get out with out any sort of camera, call it DSLR, point and shoot or video and yes sometimes it's hard to stop and take a pic every block because you won't get there on time, but if I see a good pic, most of the time I take it. What really stop me from taking a picture sometimes is shooting on strangers. Pictures where just a few people I don't know are the main subject. Even though they are doing whatever called my attention in public, but I feel like invading their privacy and just make me shy loosing the shot. Ain't happen all the time, but sometimes you would have taken a good one and let it go.

  • Shaji June 10, 2011 02:44 am

    I was on a train journey last month. I badly wanted to take my camera out and start clicking, but was scared "WHAT OTHERS MIGHT THINK". In the process I lost some real good shots.

  • Mid Stutsman June 10, 2011 02:13 am

    I don't have any of the above symptoms... I just lack concrete photography knowledge, which is why I'm "improving" my photographic skills by becoming a member here... watch out! ...you might get tired of me and my "stupid" questions!!! :)

  • Akame June 9, 2011 11:34 pm

    Moving too fast: guilty as charged. Nine times outta ten, I have my camera with me. Ironically, I can't seem to find the time to take photos with it!

  • Suman 'Sam' Halder June 9, 2011 03:01 pm

    Couldn't agree more.. :)

  • sneha June 9, 2011 01:15 pm

    I love photography however I feel odd to take out my camera to take photo though i always carry my small digital camera with me. Whenever i took camera people stare at me so i stop to shot the photo.

  • Ian June 9, 2011 07:03 am

    I recently purchased a Nikon D90 and it turned out that a close friend of mine also had the same camera. We were talking about the complexity of the camera and decided that a good way of getting into the camera and it's menus was to set each other a challenge topic each month for which we would both submit photos. Of course this gives us a reason to actually use the camera.....not just weddings, birthdays and Christmas. We have been doing this for a rew months now and we are really begining to get into some of the finer points of the D90. So, to answer your question, I would recommend get a friend and compete....just for the fun of it. We now have 5 'member' all with different topics and cameras and all are submitted to our personal web site so we can compare, contrast and discuss.

  • Trep Ford June 9, 2011 02:56 am

    Agree with Luke ... dSLR's can be quite obnoxious to take with you everywhere. I have to say, as one who's owned a bucket full of SLR's and dSLR's, they are not my favorite class of camera any more, for precisely the reason Luke points out. Yes, they are the cream of the crop for some sorts of photography, but if you don't have it with you, it's simply not relevant. I started out as an SLR only person, but I eventually got over my SLR-centric outlook on photography and started to allow myself to enjoy smaller, more portable cameras. Now I always have one with me in my pack or pocket. Carrying a small camera all the time not only lead me to taking more pictures, I learned a lot about just how great an image you CAN make with a small camera ... once you take the time to learn what it's capable of. Even very inexpensive cameras, in the hands of a trained and experienced shooter, can make some wonderful images. Bigger isn't always better.

    If you're brand new to photography, think twice before you buy a dSLR. It's sort of like buying a Ferrari or a Porsche as your first set of wheels. I think a lot of new photographers would be better off starting with simpler, smaller cameras and really learning how to take pictures before they dump a lot of money on a dSLR that's frankly more camera than they'll know how to use for quite a while and one they're less like to keep with them everywhere they go. I see a lot of new shooters toting around big cameras and lenses, but showing obvious signs of not having any idea how to really use them. Invest first in your own knowledge and experience ... THEN invest in the more expensive gear. We don't impress anyone by misusing an expensive camera. Spend your money on classes, books, workshops and a smaller, simpler camera that really feels good in your hands. You'll WANT to take it with you everywhere, and you'll learn MORE, and much FASTER ... because you're shooting all the time.

  • Luke June 8, 2011 04:21 pm

    I think that #1, having your camera with you is my biggest inhibitor. I really prefer using my dSLR over a point and shoot, but often find myself leaving it at home, or in the car when it seems inconvenient to carry.

  • Matt June 8, 2011 02:37 am

    1) Something that helped me a lot with keeping my dslr on me was have a a sturdy low profile camera backpack. I ride my motorcycle around with my camera bag on my back and a tri-pod straped to the passenger seat so I'm always ready for those random moments.
    2)as far as slowing down for your photography moments, that just happened over time for me, even when I'm going 90mph down the highway I'll notice something I want a shot of and if I have my camera on me which I always do, I'd kick myself later on if I didn't stop fo tha shot! So go ahead and stop!
    3) worried about what others think? Some of my best shots were out in public begging people to step out of the frame! I'll never see them again and I got a shot that I love! It's worth it to me

  • Keith June 7, 2011 12:55 pm

    I have the most problem with #3 personally. I'd like to do more portraits and candids, but I guess I don't really appreciate photos of me, and assume most others don't as well...

    I think one improvement tool is looking at the data that is gathered with your shots. In the old film days we had to write down notes to determine which photos "work". Now all that info is at your finger tips. Reviewing your work and seeing "the why" of the ones you like is a very powerful tool.

  • norman June 7, 2011 10:43 am

    I always carry my camera & a tripod for a night walk in Dublin city almost every weekend.My main purpose is to exercise while at the same time looking for some oppurtunity for a shot....And i really love it....I dont care if i can go home with a shot or not as if it is a part my routine to have a camera & a tripod.Im very lucky to go home to have a couple of decent shot out of 20...im still happy with that.....and i usually walk alone.

  • María Paula June 7, 2011 07:55 am

    This is really interesting, i realized that those actually fit with me. I rarely get my camera out with me, because
    a. it's a bit big for me to carry it everywhere &
    b. it's expensive, and my dad doesn't allow me to take it everywhere...
    and also, i go at a fast pace all the time, so even when i see stuff that i'd love to photograph, sometimes i just can't take a minute to take a picture of it, even with my cellphone...
    So from now on, i'm gonna try to take my point and shoot everywhere and slow down a little bit.
    Thanks for the advice!

  • Nir Twayna June 7, 2011 05:17 am

    I always wanted to photograph people in different mood and action. But doing so, I am always afraid as it strike my mind that they may mind and don't like to be photographed. Because I usually don't like to be photographed.

  • G.Vijayavenugopal June 6, 2011 01:29 pm

    May be there is nobody to discuss about the quality etc., of the photos;they should know about the poentialities of internet.

  • Victor Castro June 6, 2011 08:38 am

    I think there is another kind of to fast, It's when your at an event and your just point ing & shooting hoping the camera's gonna get the shot. Mind you I have shot like that in the past & still do if the situation warrants it. (I call it gorilla shooting) "wanting to get the shot before the subject sees you or before the circumstances change." I know shooting like this is risky in terms of getting the shot but when you do get it . There's a real thrill. I know the benefits of slowing down and seeing whats in front of you as I'm a Buddhist and practice being present and awake through out my day. I would also ask your readers to challenge themselves to learn how to shoot with a contemplative approach to what they see. "Allowing it to just be what it is and capturing it.....Later.

  • Doug June 5, 2011 11:50 pm

    After I posted my #4 (just ask) suggestion for an addition to the list, i recalled a pic I took a couple of years back where this was exactly what I'd done. In this image, I'd gotten the gentleman to agree to being photographed and had progressed to a point where I was suggesting poses (specifically looking for a 'muscle' shot). He didn't quite oblige but I'm much happier with his actual pose.

    For your enjoyment:


  • Sam June 5, 2011 08:03 pm

    All the three points are true to for somebody and sometimes. I think the more is point #2, Fast pace life, rushing from place to place, jobs to jobs. Not ready to spare few times to take the camera for a shoot or even sit and relax for sometimes. And another I would like to share is that some sort of guilty conscious, When you look at the photos that taken by others that I missed a great frame. And another is waiting for great frame or chance to take great photo, chances are very rare if you wait for. I suggest that you need to create a simple moment to a memorable moment. every moments are wonderful in the world. A good photographer needs to capture it at the appropriate time. I have read somewhere in a blog (I actually forgot the name of the site, the credit goes to the author) that you need to "FART" before taking a snap. Not funny at all, F= stands for FEEL, feel the frame or object before you click, A stands for ASK, ask yourself before you click, what made you to stop and take that particular frame,. R stands for refine REFINE, just refine the above 2 F and A and come to a great frame and T stands for TAKE. I think its a good reason to have a fart now.

  • Rick Merrick June 5, 2011 05:40 pm

    I agree with all stated, however I would like to add one more..that is location, I am a contractor in Saudi Arabia, this where I got interested in photography. As most will know, this is culterally a very conservative location. There are many who do not agree with photography, and taking Images of certain locations, and genders can be very difficult, even the sight of the camera can cause a problem. This does create a "Be careful" syndrome..and many opportunities for some great Images are lost. I would like to know if others out there have experienced this. Rick

  • Rachel Wattson June 5, 2011 01:50 pm

    Guilty of one, two, and three at one time or another. I have two little boys so it is tough to slow down sometimes. I started utilizing my camera on my phone once I got an Android. It gives me some creative freedom and I can still practice composition and lighting on the fly. Even my photography teacher taught me it's better to have SOME sort of camera on you than none at all. Number three was my worst for quite some time. I am moving beyond it though and if someone asks I explain that I am practicing. It really doesn't sound that silly when you say it out loud. The only other thing that holds me back is a limited atmosphere. We all can't hike the highest peak at dawn or hit the beach at sunset but what we can do is find the beauty around us. Like solution #2: SLOW DOWN! One other thing I might add is wait for the moment to come. If you are shooting people and you can see something great about to happen (a kiss) (a great laugh) don't just pop off a ton of shots hoping to get it. Anticipate and shoot a couple frames not 10. Your timing will improve as you practice and you will love not having to go through a ton of images for the good one.

  • Rachel Wattson June 5, 2011 01:49 pm

    Guilty of one, two, and three at one time or another. I have two little boys so it is tough to slow down sometimes. I started utilizing my camera on my phone once I got an Android. It gives me some creative freedom and I can still practice composition and lighting on the fly. Even my photography teacher taught me it's better to have SOME sort of camera on you than none at all. Number three was my worst for quite some time. I am moving beyond it though and if someone asks I explain that I am practicing. It really doesn't sound that silly when you say it out loud. The only other thing that holds me back is a limited atmosphere. We all can't hike the highest peak at dawn or hit the beach at sunset but what we can do is find the beauty around us. Like solution #2: SLOW DOWN! One other thing I might add is wait for the moment to come. If you are shooting people and you can see something great about to happen (a kiss) (a great laugh) don't just pop off a ton of shots hoping to get it. Anticipate and shoot a couple frames not 10. Your timing will improve as you practice and you will love not having to go through a ton of images for the good one.

  • Rachel Wattson June 5, 2011 01:48 pm

    Guilty of one, two, and three at one time or another. I have two little boys so it is tough to slow down sometimes. I started utilizing my camera on my phone once I got an Android. It gives me some creative freedom and I can still practice composition and lighting on the fly. Even my photography teacher taught me it's better to have SOME sort of camera on you than none at all. Number three was my worst for quite some time. I am moving beyond it though and if someone asks I explain that I am practicing. It really doesn't sound that silly when you say it out loud. The only other thing that holds me back is a limited atmosphere. We all can't hike the highest peak at dawn or hit the beach at sunset but what we can do is find the beauty around us. Like solution #2: SLOW DOWN! One other thing I might add is wait for the moment to come. If you are shooting people and you can see something great about to happen (a kiss) (a great laugh) don't just pop off a ton of shots hoping to get it. Anticipate and shoot a couple frames not 10. Your timing will improve as you practice and you will love not having to go through a ton of images for the good one.

  • Rachel June 5, 2011 12:53 pm

    I don't have a problem with people seeing me with my camera nor do I have a problem with slowing down to take photos. I generally have my point and shoot Canon or my DSLR Pentax with me at all times. My biggest problems come to actually understanding what all the gadgets do on my DSLR, and the post production process. I have take photography classes and usually do my best to shoot manual at all times because I feel like having it on auto is too easy and the photos never look like I want them to. My Pentax came with software, but I honestly have no idea how to use it. My photo processing skills are bad. I don't get how people can take a normal couples portrait photo and process it into a dreamy engagement photo. Is it my vision of what needs to be adjusted, or am I shooting in the wrong format. I just keep tweeking until I end up with something that looks better than the original, and then when I print it, it is grainy and a week later when ii look at it again I wonder what the heck I was thinking.

  • Scott June 5, 2011 06:16 am

    I'm a beginner and I can relate to all 3.

  • Dina Steyn June 5, 2011 03:35 am

    My main problem at the moment is the age-old question of participation vs experience. I'm an amateur photographer with a compact digital and I thoroughly enjoy fiddling with the settings, angles, light and so forth. My problem is that I get absorbed in taking photos and sometimes miss important things like catching up with old friends because I'm toting the camera with me. So I often leave the camera at home these days.

    And since I don't practice, I no longer progress. Alas!

  • dan June 5, 2011 03:31 am

    Could have left our the word stupidly - kind of a subtle insult and not a real motivator.

    That aside, I would add that folks do not take the time to study other peoples photography and learn how to use an editing program. Taking just a few moments to look at photographs that we like and ask - what is it about this photo that I like and can I try and duplicate it as a practice exercise. And even a simple editor like picasa can save underexposed photos that have good composition. Or it can save photos that are too busy by cropping out other objects. Heck , Picas even has a simple clone tool. But just cropping and getting the exposure right can make photos better. And looking at them on the PC is a great way to critique your photos because all the exif info is saved and you can look at what program setting was used and the exposure, white balance etc.

  • John Gibbs June 5, 2011 02:24 am

    Your three reasons are excellent, well done!... A phrase I always carry around with me is, 'Don't ask permission, always seek forgiveness'. What I don't mean is the illegal or totally outrageous. Essentially get your shot and worry about it afterwards...Good luck!

  • Stephen June 4, 2011 11:14 pm

    I'm guilty of all three. But number 2 is a direct result of number 3. If I am by myself in an empty field, I'll compose the shot all day long. But if people are around, it's get the shot before I become the center of attention mentality.

  • John E. Nelson June 4, 2011 11:21 am

    I loved this article and can totally relate to these 3 reasons. I have mostly overcome 2 of them but am still working on the 3rd. #1 I bought an 8 mp camera that just happens to have a phone in it. Now I always have a quality camera with me. Some times I think I should stick to the camera and leave the phone alone. #3 I mastered this years ago by doing freelance photography at high school games and local small town events. I was expected to have pic to publish and I liked being published. #2 I just don't do this one very well. I find that when I do slow down I get great pics. A lesson for me to learn.

  • sabrina mantle June 4, 2011 09:06 am

    Weird I hardly ever wonder what people will think of me taking pics, unless its of a person them self. I wanted a photo of this toddler I saw on the side walk once but didn't cause I worried the parent would be mad. Other than that I shoot whatever, if I have to climb a wall or lay on the ground to get it I don't care. The one thing that slowed me down in the past was film it self. When I started 20 years ago I didn't take many pics, even on vacation, because film was expensive(to me), developing was expensive, and you were lucky to get one good pic out of a roll. Digital freed me from these constraints and worries and I'll never go back!

  • Manu June 4, 2011 07:23 am

    Guilty of all 3, though # 3 is tops on my list.

  • Jeff - Texas June 4, 2011 07:18 am

    I've been going through my DP photo emails and noticed this link. And, I have to admit that I read the first two items in the list and thought, 'Ok, I've been guilty of those two in the past' but moved beyond them. BUT, the last one. . .wow, that really hit home. And, I've always thought that I was the only nut case that sometimes felt that way. Whew. . .what a relief!!! I never even thought anyone else felt that way. . .thank you very much for the post.

    I feel like a weight has been lifted off me and I think, just knowing that others sometime feel that way, has cured me of it.

  • Sarah June 4, 2011 06:47 am

    If you take your camera everywhere, and you use it all the time, you will soon find that No. 3 doesn't even figure any more. The more you use the camera the more confidence you will get and, after a while, you learn just to smile at the people passing by who might look at you strangely, and just take the picture anyway. Getting down on the floor (or road, or grass) is still a little more difficult, but do it often and again, the more you do it, the easier it gets.

  • jp June 4, 2011 06:41 am

    I was driving one day with my camera on the passenger seat, stopped at a red light. Ilooked to my left and saw a good looking woman in the car to my left. I grabbed the camera pointed focused and ready to go. I lowered the camera and nodded yes. She nodded as well and smiled. I took several fast shots and gave Her a thumbs up as the light changed. Sometimes it works!

  • Annette June 4, 2011 05:41 am

    Kind challenge. Thank you!!

    As I already ;-) overcame 1 I suppose 2 & 3 are possible too.


  • Peter June 4, 2011 05:35 am

    Brilliant article! your three points have at various times been a hindarance to me in my years of trying to understand photography, every morning early walks with dog how many times have I muttered should have brought my camera (now do this) also over time I have picked up various bits of insider info from the the guys who do it for a living, the two that stick with me are; dont forget to turn round when looking forwards for that great shot, it could be behind you, when taking pictures at motor race circuits watch the action through your camera because the time it takes you to line up and shoot its all over.

    I also find it is a solitary pastime, taking your camera when walking in the hills and trying to line up the landscape shot really does irritate others in the group this eventually leads to the photographer snapping at anything and eventually putting camera away.

  • Dave Mitchell June 4, 2011 04:04 am

    #3 is the biggest stumbling block for many budding photographers. Been shooting for sixty years starting with a Brownie Box camera, progressing thru many, many other cameras to my present Nikon D300, Nikon S500 and Mamiya 645. Too many "clubs" are nothing more than ego builders with the person having the most cash, best equipment and experience constantly winning top prizes while the "newbies" hang around for awhile and finally quit.

    Five years ago, I began free eight week courses for interested beginners using point-and-shoot cameras. That encouraged me to begin another "non-competitive" club here in Marietta, Georgia wherein I assign a topic at the beginning of the month and folks send in two of their best shots. At the monthly meeting, the images are projected and discussed without any "constructive criticism" but rather, "how would I make this photo better?" comments from the viewers. So far, the attendance has been outstanding, and growing generally with a waiting list for the classes. The monthly meetings are open to all.

    Recently, there was an article by DeWitt Jones in Outdoor Photographer; of one of his earliest shots which landed him a job in National Geographic. The first thing his new spervisor told him was that there were many experts in many fields employed at NatGeo and that his position should not go to his head but to learn freely from those around him. His goal at NatGeo should be " don't prove - IMPROVE" I have borrowed these sage words and made it my club's motto.

    Forget #3, learn from people willing to teach without all the "look at me and my ribbons" complex. Might want to try this wherever you are. I found it easy as a retired teacher, but with more background and research, you could do the same thing!

    Good shooting to you all and God bless! 'Scuse us, but we are packing up for a trip to NovaScotia next week, so go practice and hope to see you somewhere out in the field. "Don't prove - IMPROVE!! "

  • Dante June 4, 2011 02:25 am

    One of the biggest reason I have seen people not improve is because they are afraid to fail. A friend of mine wanted to get better but would not get out of auto, would not read anything, would not try to take pictures outside of her comfort range. All because she was afraid to take pics that were bad, we all take bad pics from time to time, if outstanding shots were commonplace everyone would be doing it. Like I told her, if you are shooting something important stay with what you know works, every other time push the boundaries of your knowledge and equipment. Luckily for her she had already over come points #1 and #3, which to me seem like the hardest to overcome. She had already taken a lot of good photos that could have been great if she would have learned how to use the camera in manual. I personally still sometimes have a problem with #3 and only recently got over #1.

  • Michelle June 4, 2011 01:25 am

    I agree with jim. I dont print my pictures. I lose faith in them after a day or two

  • David June 3, 2011 11:34 pm

    I have learned that you need to play with the camera settings. Take it off auto. See what happens when you change the filter settings. Take the shot with several different settings. Look at all of your pictures and evaluate what worked best. This type of practice has really helped me improve. If you don't play around with the setting you don't know what you can come up with.

  • Benjamin Brown June 3, 2011 11:20 pm

    Learning to to slow down and take my time has been one of the biggest issues for me. Life gets us all moving at such a pace, that it takes a conscious effort to actually force ourselves to just stop a moment and think about what we want to shoot. I've been learning to stop and absorb my surroundings more when I see a photo opp, and when ever possible, take my time to get that one 'perfect shot' instead of banging off a dozen 'quickies' that end up being 'so so' becuase I'mm worried about the time.

    The other impediment I've had to work on is an odd one for a portrait photographer, but it's to stop worrying about what people think when I'm out shooting! I've slowly become more comfortable and less 'concerned' with others around me, but it's taken some effort and I'm still conscious of it from time to time. One of the best ways to get over this fear is to just get out on the streets...walk and shoot....learn how to build your comfort level with street photography. It really can work wonders. And quite honestly...most of the time...most people are far too preoccupied with their own worlds and lives and what ever else is going on on the street...to even notice someone with a camera most of the time!

    We just need to keep at it! Love it...practice it...do it!

  • ShontaeB June 3, 2011 11:12 pm

    lol I am guilty of all three. Especially carrying my camera around. I used to consider it like my 3rd hand now I find myself mad that I left the camera at home when I see something that would look great on camera. This is actually my goal for the upcoming months...to never leave home without it.

  • Tim June 3, 2011 10:46 pm

    I have only been shooting since March of this year. I take my camera everywhere. It's always in my truck. Sometimes I leave to lunch and just drive somewhere and start shooting. I'm no where near as good as most of the people here however, people that have seen my work are asking me to shoot their family!:) My dream is to be able to leave my high stress Job and make a living at this! I love shooting.. Thanks to this site I have learned o much but most of all I have learned to express myself through photography!

  • Arindam June 3, 2011 10:22 pm

    Great article & quite helpful as well....thanks a tonne Darren!!! Actually I'm also sufferring from #3...couldn't agree more. In Calcutta ( in India, in general), if one just takes his camera out of the bag & starts to frame a photo, people around you would starts murmering if you'r from the world of media & within few seconds they would come & gather around you, resulting you to leave the place at the first chance...:( moreover, if by mistake,even, if you fix your camera on a particular person involved in some action that might interest you as a photographer, then there is more than 200% chance that he/she would start abusing you, as if your steeling his/her privacy & is going to make trillions of money using those pics...weird I'd say...as a result one would think thousand times before taking his camera out of the bag....I think, sometimes it depends upon the society you'r living in...:( :(

  • dukeHenry June 3, 2011 10:14 pm

    lol Going too fast is my problem. But when i start to learn street photography this problem make me need to solve. #3 is not that much but I am choosy want to post on my page :)
    And about the questions, going out without proper/good lens is what makes me stop to go to photoshot :(
    I don't know how to solve this but I just save some extra penny to buy a better gear.

  • Amir June 3, 2011 08:46 pm

    Number 3 was like BINGO!!! You Got Me!!
    Thanks for the post.

  • Sonia Robinson June 3, 2011 08:22 pm

    I never leave home without my camera AND mobilephone/camera - sinking to the lowest levels to 'shoot' (slugs - which make marvellous pictures) - if short of something more 'special'. And I'm often found with posterior protruding from the undergrowth in pursuit of an even slower paced species - fungi. I giggle along with those who giggle at me - and promptly take a picture of them!
    My sticking point to improving - is the failure of the club I joined to take into account my relative inexperience - their tuition based on advanced techniques way beyond my comprehension. Their rigid set ways is also a hindrance.
    Having learned and taught martial arts - the ground rule was - Keep returning to basics. Apparently not the case with photography clubs. Perhaps there's a lesson to be learned there?

  • Sonia Robinson June 3, 2011 08:22 pm

    I never leave home without my camera AND mobilephone/camera - sinking to the lowest levels to 'shoot' (slugs - which make marvellous pictures) - if short of something more 'special'. And I'm often found with posterior protruding from the undergrowth in pursuit of an even slower paced species - fungi. I giggle along with those who giggle at me - and promptly take a picture of them!
    My sticking point to improving - is the failure of the club I joined to take into account my relative inexperience - their tuition based on advanced techniques way beyond my comprehension. Their rigid set ways is also a hindrance.
    Having learned and taught martial arts - the ground rule was - Keep returning to basics. Apparently not the case with photography clubs. Perhaps there's a lesson to be learned there?

  • Spookman01 June 3, 2011 08:21 pm

    I suffered with #3 and spent some time thinking over the issue until I found a simple way to overcome it.

    I bought myself a high vis vest ( It cost me £5). By wearing this simple garment people did not give me a second glance. All of a sudden I looked like I was supposed to be there. Strangley enough, by becoming even more conspicuous I just blended into the background. For winter I upgraded to a high vis jacket. Try it, you will be surprised how much confidence it gives you.

  • Leah T June 3, 2011 07:50 pm

    haha... no.3 is the one i stumble on most...
    no.2... sometimes aplies...
    but my camera is ALWAYS on my sholder in my bag (:
    well... you know :D

  • Singapore Wedding Photography June 3, 2011 07:29 pm

    Going out with a partner. I guess that's the best advice in the world. I never thought about it, but yes, i will feel much less confronting than alone.

  • Christian June 3, 2011 07:20 pm

    In my experience preparation is key - knowing in advance the shot you are looking for and then waiting for the right conditions. Also when taking shots I've progressed from my mistakes (not using a tripod or RAW, Bracketing) and then making sure I don't repeat these.

  • Vivek Varma June 3, 2011 05:29 pm

    you are perfectly right, sir!
    i face a problem of taking photographs in public.......m always worried what others would think about me.
    i will try out your friend's solution to overcome this problem.

    thank you, sir!

  • robert June 3, 2011 04:49 pm

    I would'nt worry too much about what people think. There are far more oddities around the place, especially in cities, to grab our attention. People taking photos is a very common site. So for those shutterbugs that are a bit shy try useing a smaller camera to get your confidence up. Go to a popular tourist spot in your home town and blend in with other people taking pictures. By the way I never go anywhere without my dslr, that includes the supermarket.

  • mark frondozo June 3, 2011 04:36 pm

    i easily get lost from ideas whereas what is to shoot and what is to compose for a certain photoshoot, sometimes i came up with 2 or more ideas but simply it is really difficult to be a photographer without any help from oyhers setting up some lights or reflectors, a one man show that is! is there a way to make it easy for me? how?

  • Freddie June 3, 2011 03:37 pm

    Never knew, someone will sort my problem in just 3 reasons :D

  • Annu June 3, 2011 03:30 pm

    i couldnt agree more withe points mentioned.And about #3 i try not to think what people have to say what i am doing unless the area where i am shooting is prohibited for clicking.

    I have one problem or atleast my frends tell me that i am too slow at taking pics. I think at times thinking too much or thinking whether the pic will turn out the way it is in my head or not makes me work slow. Or maybe whether i mafollowing basic rules of framing,composition etc. Is this a serious problem??

  • Eddie June 3, 2011 02:35 pm

    I think that another important factor is to acquaint oneself with the works of individuals who have made a name for themselves in the world of photography such as James Vanderzee, Gordon Parks, Lisette Model, Weegee, Malik Sidibe and learn from them. One could see Model's influence on Diane Arbus and yet Arbus developed a style of her own. But I do agree wholeheartedly that to take good pictures one must practice, practice, practice and when your camera isn't at your eye, you're framing shots visually.

  • Rhalene June 3, 2011 02:31 pm

    I've taken the class from DPS and also other classes both in groups or online. I've also gotten some very good books written by photographer Scott Kelby. His books are very clear and precise making it easy to learn. The problem I have is that I can read over and over again his books, your class notes that I've kept and when I go out to a photoshoot I just can't seem to remember what settings have been suggested. I just seem to get too anxious to do the right thing and forget everything when I get there. I even take my books and notes with me to refresh my memory on what settings I may be shooting but once I start the shoot I'm completely lost. I keep changing Aperature, Shutter Speed, ISO etc and mess it up completely.

    When I go back and read again, I realize I know what it says and what I was suppose to do. This may not be very clear but I'm sure you understand what I'm trying to say. Thank you for any input

  • G-Love June 3, 2011 01:39 pm

    All of these are true for me. And I would gladly fix it. But my parents don't want me taking my camera *anywhere* and it's "illegal" to take photographs at school. So like yeah. And ive always been shy about just taking a picture of someone. People at my school are sooo judgmental. So that doesn't help. But I hope to be able to get more photography over the summer :)

  • Jim News June 3, 2011 01:38 pm

    This might seem odd, or obvious, but I have seen this problem many times. "You never print your photos." Perhaps it's the old school in me, but looking at a photo on a computer screen just isn't the same as the printed version. Everytime I print photos, I find something I didn't see on the screen. And yes, I've got an excellent, calibrated monitor and graphics card on my PC. Still, nothing is better than a well made print of a great photo! The file on the computer is an "image" or "capture". The print is a picture...

  • Gary June 3, 2011 01:33 pm

    2 and 3 ring true for me. I carry my camera everyday. But I do fail at using it every day. I drive alot and I bet I pass shoots I want but refuse to stop and take them because I'm always in a hurry and most of the time it would only take 10 minutes to set up, take the shot, and drive away. I need to slow down and atleast look at the roses from time to time, maybe I will eventually stop and smell them.

  • Alison June 3, 2011 10:48 am

    #1 the advent of point and shoot means I have a camera in my bag at all times the only limit/frustration is the quality of image.

    #2 I have always been slow and patient to get the shot (animals especially) however when travelling last year I didn't always have that luxury especially with time limits imposed by timetables.

    #3 is my biggest downfall with images of people. A trip last year found me enjoying street photography but limited as I was too frightened to get close to people and ask permission. I missed some great shots and walked away angry with myself. In business I follow the philosophy ask it is either yes or no so why not with photography.

    One really important tool that I read and now always practise resulting in some super images when you stop and take that photo do a 360° turn and scan from ground to sky level to see whats around you.

  • Linda Gregory June 3, 2011 10:16 am

    I find that some folks are afraid to photograph new things, i.e. "I've never taken portraits before." In addition they don't take the time to learn their camera's functions.

  • Peck Yah Lim June 3, 2011 10:12 am

    I am definitely guilty of 2 & 3. Thanks Darren for pointing out. From now on I will definitely try to overcome them. Cheers

  • rd June 3, 2011 10:07 am

    It's my memory - short term memory loss - or maybe it's long term - whatever. I forget what to do with the settings - so I do shoot a lot on auto. It's also that while I can see well enough to take the picture - those little numbers require glasses - which I don't usually carry around with me - all I need is something around my neck getting in the way, but as I say, it's difficult to see the numbers without them. I shoot enough - then my problem comes with choosing the best of the shots and ditching the others, I'm always afraid I've thrown away the best ones.

    1 is a problem sometimes, lighting - usually too much of it at the wrong time of day - and so I just leave the camera behind - I don't remember this being such a problem with the old film cameras - but with the digital, too much light is a killer - refer to my inability to change aperature.

    2. is seldom a problem - I'm always willing to stop. I'd rather get a good shot than just a snap shot. I am always amazed though, the last trip I went on, hiking in the Smokey's along a well worn and traveled path, people were talking and doing anything but looking - even though they carried cameras. No one I talked to back at the parking lot saw the not so pretty Tway Blade Orchids right at their feet at one of the more photographed sites along the trail.

    3. Never has been a problem for me. everyone knows or soon knows that the reason I take a camera with me is to take pictures.

  • niko B June 3, 2011 09:42 am

    I find that I have a tendency to want to wait for something worthy of being photographed .. even though at other times I have fun shooting my cat or a potted plant or even something just lying on a table. Its like a kind of writers block but for photography.

  • J Neil Hammitt June 3, 2011 09:26 am

    What I see before I decide to shoot, is often not what I thought I saw out of the camera. On the other hand, if I throw caution to the wind and do the multiple thing, I might get what I thought I saw. Obviously, I am not a technician when it comes to settings and more than a few times P for perfect enters my routine. 2 stops either way does not make up for uninteresting subjects and poor composition. @ 78, if I score a few good ones, thats fine.

  • Dulcey Lima June 3, 2011 09:12 am

    I do not own a tripod yet!

  • Angie J June 3, 2011 08:59 am

    LOVE this post! I am sooo incredibly guilty of #2. And then after the fact as I'm looking the pics on the computer, I think "why didn't you try/do this?" If I had sat back a moment and thought about it, I might have gotten the "one" shot. I'm also someone guilty of #1 although I have been bringing my camera along for all "rides" lately. As for #3, I don't care about what others think when I'm trying to get a certain shot. :) Most of the time when they see the camera, they figure it out. cheers everyone!

  • Barbara | Creative Culinary June 3, 2011 08:43 am

    I know a lot of food bloggers that have been shooting for awhile and they use automatic settings. I'm no expert but I started out on manual to force myself to learn the camera and an glad I did. It makes for better pictures even if there is a learning curve

  • Bodhi June 3, 2011 08:27 am

    Point 3 is what i relate to most! Although i do not care about my position or how i look while shooting, but avoid shooting other people lest they think otherwise!

    There have been a number of instances where i have seen kids play in fountains(the kinds u have in shopping malls) and thought how great a shot it would be. But haven't captured even a single one yet.

    One other thing i think is very important to improve. It is a sound review of your photo which i suppose i lack. I try to overcome it by doing a good amount of reading and research , but nonetheless it slows down...

  • John Connell June 3, 2011 07:57 am

    Thank you for excellent tips I have experienced all of them. The difficulty I have, as an amateur photographer is getting honest feed back on my work. How can you improve if your mistakes are not pointed out to you? Some times I look at an image and think it is good and change my mind a few days later.

  • Alessandra June 3, 2011 07:33 am

    They are all good reasons, but for me it is mostly reason 1. I never have my camera with me. I probably should change my bag and get a larger one. I know that the less I shoot the less I'm inspired. It's a vicious circle.

  • Michael_2010 June 3, 2011 06:40 am

    Kind of related to Number 3

    I've been out taking random shots of landscapes, etc. and tune out any other people that might be around. Later when I am home going through the files I will be somewhat amazed at how many people I might capture in the distance that are looking straight at my camera. I don't know if they are just curious about what I am doing, or think I am pointing the camera at them. I don't think that bothers me one way or another.

    Now, if I have stopped along side some back road to shoot a sunset across a cow pasture and a vehicle starts driving back and forth checking me out, that does bother me. I guess they think I am up to no good or they might be wondering how much cash they could get for my camera at the local pawn shop.

  • Martin June 3, 2011 06:30 am

    When you've just bought your brand new DSLR, reason 1 doesn't even exist. The problem is that when photography is a hobby and you have a busy career, you tend to cool off quite easily, and before long the camera is forgotten in a cupboard. What helps tremendously is to join a photography club that holds regular meetings.
    The proposed solution for reason 3, works very well! My photography buddy & I are both introvert engineer types, and shooting a scene together makes even us oblivious to the people around us. I also believe seeing two people taking photos looks far less creepy than a single individual. Using a tripod, is not only good practice, but makes you feel less "stalker-like".

  • CrazyMoose June 3, 2011 05:53 am

    Great post and very well spoken. The more often I take my camera with me the less often do I bother about what others think. And the great thing about digital photography is that you can really try out things all the time and improve your skills. And by now lots of things I see do inspire me and I just try them out.

  • Brian June 3, 2011 05:49 am

    I believe the most obvious reason is not taking enough photos. To really connect with your camera, you have to use it a lot in various shooting environments. Next would be putting aside enough time to take photos. A lot of times we make excuses about not having enough time to do things, but the things we really care about, we find time. Last would be to look at photography as an enjoyable activity. The more you share your work with others, the more happiness you can spead around.

  • Brian June 3, 2011 05:48 am

    I believe the most obvious reason is not taking enough photos. To really connect with your camera, you have to use it a lot in various shooting environments. Next would be putting aside enough time to take photos. A lot of times we make excuses about not having enough time to do things, but the things we really care about, we find time. Last would be to look at photography as an enjoyable activity. The more you share your work with others, the more happiness you can spead around.

  • J Neil Hammitt June 3, 2011 05:39 am

    Good advise on the stupid reasons why. My problem is what I see that inspires me, does not at all look the same coming out of the camera, on many occasions. The color is fine or will be after adjustments, the focus and depth of field are OK and so is the composition. However; it just does not represent the pop that I thought I saw when inspired to take the photo. On the other hand, when I am shooting wild thing style with multiples almost at random for choices, several may turn out to be pretty good.

  • J Neil Hammitt June 3, 2011 05:39 am

    Good advise on the stupid reasons why. My problem is what I see that inspires me, does not at all look the same coming out of the camera, on many occasions. The color is fine or will be after adjustments, the focus and depth of field are OK and so is the composition. However; it just does not represent the pop that I thought I saw when inspired to take the photo. On the other hand, when I am shooting wild thing style with multiples almost at random for choices, several may turn out to be pretty good.

  • trailsnet June 3, 2011 05:29 am

    I cured the "going too fast" problem but need to work on the "worrying what people think" problem.
    Since most of my travels are now with the purpose of writing trail guides & posting to my blog, I was forced to slow down. About 90% of my travels are on the seat of a bike, and it's amazing how much more I see on two wheels than when I was in a car. The pace is slower, the scenery is better, and it's a heck of a lot easier to stop when I see something interesting.
    I highly recommend you find a good trail, take your camera with you, and shoot lots of photos.

  • Lautaro Fassetta June 3, 2011 05:26 am

    i use only "virgin" shots, they're printes as they were taked, no photoshop :)
    i ALWAYS take at least one of my cameras with me, even if i only go to my backyard to play with my kittys, i have very grat shots from that moments, like a cropduster working in the fields nex-to my town, some big birds flying low, and a lot more. you don't know what you could find, so i prefere to be prepared to anything can appear.
    i try to gow slow, like when i'm riding mi honda biz, i ALWAYS look everywhere. and drive at 50 or less :P.

  • Richard Keeling June 3, 2011 05:16 am

    Excellent article. All three points are equally important; personally I find myself susceptible to #3, a certain fear of not getting the 'right' shot. I've been overcoming that by deliberately putting myself in unusual settings and taking a lot of pictures. Much cheaper to do with digital than with film!

  • Pete Wisda June 3, 2011 05:11 am

    Hi I want Canon to put a password on cameras so if they are stolen the theives can't use them. This would eventually prevent thefts and I would be more comfortable taking it with me and leaving it in the car. Canon could update firmware to require a certain sequence of keys are pressed to unlock the camera for current camera models. Thanks

  • Richard Crowe June 3, 2011 04:54 am


    1. Being afraid to shoot pictures of strangers resulting in coming home with an abundance of brick and mortar as well as vegetation shots but, no human vestiges. YES, there are avtually people living, working and playing where you visit...

    2. Overuse of UWA lenses. Shooting a landscape with a UWA in the hopes thet "Maybe there will be something interesting out there!" BTW: There seldom is...

    3. Lack of flash for fill light outdoors. Of course if you aren't shooting any people, you really don't need fill flash...

    4. Traveling on tours that are not designed for photographers. A guide on a China Tour actually told us, "I will tell you about the Forbidden City and will then give you a couple of minutes to shoot your snapshots." My gosh, a few minutes to shoot the Forbidden City!


  • Richard Crowe June 3, 2011 04:54 am


    1. Being afraid to shoot pictures of strangers resulting in coming home with an abundance of brick and mortar as well as vegetation shots but, no human vestiges. YES, there are avtually people living, working and playing where you visit...

    2. Overuse of UWA lenses. Shooting a landscape with a UWA in the hopes thet "Maybe there will be something interesting out there!" BTW: There seldom is...

    3. Lack of flash for fill light outdoors. Of course if you aren't shooting any people, you really don't need fill flash...

    4. Traveling on tours that are not designed for photographers. A guide on a China Tour actually told us, "I will tell you about the Forbidden City and will then give you a couple of minutes to shoot your snapshots." My gosh, a few minutes to shoot the Forbidden City!


  • Marty June 3, 2011 04:46 am

    I have no problem with tips one and two. And not really number three. I could care less about being judged. What I am worried about is environment. I live in Montreal and have to deal with roller coaster climates during the year. My main worry is having read about people getting mold or fungus inside their lenses. With the -30C winters and +40 humid summers, a lot of days I go out to shoot and don't even get my gear out of the bag. I have been a member of your site for about a month and have been reading back posts with much of my free time, but have never come across any mention of lens mold or fungus. How worried should I be?

  • Jillenium June 3, 2011 04:31 am

    I'd add that, even when one takes dozens of shots per day, unless she or he takes time to evaluate their photos, learning and improvement can't happen. When I critique or recrop my own photos, it helps me make consistent quality photos.

  • Sunny June 3, 2011 04:31 am

    Sometimes I don't bring out my camera with me to events is because i feel as if i'm disconnected with a group of people if you're constantly snapping pictures away. If you have a camera hanging around your neck, you're automatically the group photographer and then you have to do take all the pictures they want to take, which leaves you out of all the other things that are going on in the background.

  • Mark June 3, 2011 04:19 am

    For all of you who worry what people think: join a camera club and go on a shooting event with other photographers a few times. You'll find it easy to shoot with others around, you'll get good ideas from them too. You'll probably find that you get much more comfortable with shooting in public after a while.

  • jill June 3, 2011 04:17 am

    Taking a camera with me at all times and deciding to photograph anything and everything that catches my eye as a pleasant sensory experience has made a five minute drive to the store turn into an hour long rainbow photo chase. But so worth it...how often is a rainbow seen arching in front of a snow covered mountain anyway?

  • Desirée June 3, 2011 04:17 am

    My problem is mainly #3... But only when I take photos in my own hometown. I live in a small town in the north of the Netherlands, people are quite narrowminded here, not used to a lot, so when you take out a 'huge' camera, they immediately start looking, commenting, getting in the way, etc... But when I'm somewhere else, I have no problem whatsoever walking around with my dSLR around my neck...

    I am only now learning to take my time for a shot. I usually only think how annoying it must be for the people I am with, if they have to wait a minute longer, so when I see something nice, I point, I shoot, and that's it. But now, I've prepared my parents that when we go on holiday in August, they'll have to be slightly more patient with me, and they're actually fine with that... So I probably only thought they would be annoyed... Like I always think I know what other people think...

    Another huge problem I have is not being sure of myself... And being bashed on fora isn't helping! I never remember positive feedback, only the negative. Of course, family and friends are biased, although I do think they're also honest, if they don't like a picture, they do tell me. But I really don't believe it when they say a picture is pleasing to the eye... I invite you all to comment on my photos, and help me get over this insecurity. www.flickr.com/photos/dmboom

    I suppose that's my main problem... Because being sure of yourself means you don't care what other people think when you pull out your camera, either... Such an eye-opener, this article!

  • Anne June 3, 2011 04:16 am

    I used to be guilty of #3 but I got over it when I started taking pics of my kid's percussion ensemble. I was at practices and performances. Everyone got so used to seeing me with my camera, they now think somethings wrong if I don't have it in my hands! I have even had neighbors call the police on me because they felt I was invading their privacy....I was taking pics of the sky.

  • AniV June 3, 2011 03:58 am

    These are all great points, and I've done all three. Being shy is probably the toughest one.
    I'd add one more though: never taking the camera off auto. We all buy these fancy cameras and want to take brilliant photos but we are either 1. Too lazy (it'll take too long to get the best settings by myself) or 2. Too scared (I don't believe I can get the shot I want if I try to work out the settings myself). I've done this so many times - "let auto do the work for me".

    Sure, you'll still get a decent shot on auto, probably. But photography is both an art and a skill. The art is often cultivated heavily or naturally inherent, but we don't spend nearly enough time learning how the camera actually works and the abilities of the other modes.

    I make it a rule to take at least one photograph NOT on auto in every photo session.

  • david smith June 3, 2011 03:51 am

    When I saw the heading photo I thought Number 1 was going to be "holding your camera". I see many people holding their camera like the person in the photo. But if you use your support arm (ie the left for right handers) to support under the lens rather than over it, with the elbow tucked into your stomach you can get a much more solid stance and reduce camera shake. Invariably you will see professionals using this position. Ideally find a wall or post for extra support (actually ideally use a tripod).

    Sorry if this point has already been made, I have not yet had a chance to read all the comments - great site, thanks.

  • christina June 3, 2011 03:44 am

    Adding another...
    4. You never try anything new! It's easy to get stuck taking shots you're familiar with. Be willing to fail in trying something new - a new perspective, new type of subject, new effect, different time of day/.lighting, etc...

  • Mark Mowery June 3, 2011 03:41 am

    #3 was a biggie for me, until I started paying close attention to the reactions of those around me. It seemed like mostly they had the opposite reaction to what I was fearing, and would actually sometimes apologize if they felt they got in the way of a shot.

  • hobofoto June 3, 2011 03:38 am

    a possible fourth, 'tho related to #1: gear overload. it might be simply a lack of familiarity with your equipment that came from not carrying your camera along. but some folks - i admit that i've been guilty - have suffered from GAS (gear acquisition syndrome). sufferers don't get to spend enough time with a particular lens or body or strobe to really understand its capabilities and idiosyncrasies. maybe we should go back to using 120 roll film in tin kodaks. or a nice little leica with a 35mm f/1.2. or a hasselblad … oh, nevermind.

  • KSW June 3, 2011 03:33 am

    Thanks for such a great post. All resonate with me - but especially 3. Frankly, I hate setting aside the time (#2) and having the DSLR (#1) but having an acute case of Framing Paralysis...#3... 1. check. 2. check. but without #3.... all bets are off. It is a certain failure. Thanks for the post. Off to overcome #3.

  • Kylie law June 3, 2011 03:32 am

    Thank you! For bringing all these problems to light.
    I find that I feel rushed when taking photos, like I'm holding friends or family up. I have a photography buddy so perhaps I can plan some day trips with her. I was also holding back on doing a photography class because I didn't think I would understand about ISO ect, my friend persuaded me to take the class and I absolutely love it!! It's just that rushing problem I need to get over and I guess the only way to do that is to take more photos (what a shame :-).

  • phil June 3, 2011 03:29 am

    Don't follow trends but, rather, rely on your own instincts.

    Among my favorite photographer's are artists like Robert Frank, Henry Wessel, Garry Winogrand, Emmet Gowin, and Ralph Eugene Meatyard who, like most of the greats, followed their own inner vision and established new ways of seeing'

    The whole world is there for the taking.Always carry your camera with you and photograph whatever you respond to. Look at as many photographs as possible for inspiration. Read your photographic history.


  • Teresa Boardman June 3, 2011 03:22 am

    I get the first two reasons and never heard of the third reason. I'll add another reason. I have encountered people who have a strict sense of the right way and wrong way to use a camera and to photograph an image. I think we get better by experimenting, trying different settings, lenses and angles and thinking about how we want the image to look instead of how it is supposed to look and the recommended way of shooting it.

  • Bill Spanier June 3, 2011 03:20 am

    You can not learn to improve your photos without shooting so bring your camera, EVERYWHERE! While your stopped at a traffic light, on a lunch break, going to the store.... have your camera with you and take a photo. You can at least practice with lighting, composition, etc. If you don't like the photo, you can erase it and march on. Look at the world around you as a picture frame and photograph its glory.

  • hobofoto June 3, 2011 03:20 am

    i'm glad that you articulated the three reasons. i gradually overcame #1, but i'm still guilty of numbers 2 and 3. slowing down and becoming less self conscious are hugely important. my advice to myself has been: try it! take your camera for walks - it's good for both of you - walk slowly and look around, and smile. people may think you're an idiot, but so what? if you lie down on the sidewalk to get a better angle they'll probably step over you, not on you (depends on where you live).

  • Vinay Jhedu June 3, 2011 03:18 am

    i have no camera but still i read every article of this site it is awesome . i going to buy a camera soon can anyone suggest me

  • Michael_2010 June 3, 2011 03:18 am

    There have been times when I have gone into areas to get a shot that have made me feel uncomfortable. That can really break the concentration, because it is hard to watch your back while your eye is glued to a viewfinder. Once I went to this location along the bay up under a bridge in a seamier part of town. The buildings that had been there were long gone due to one of many hurricanes over the years. I wanted to capture the sun rising up over the dilapidated piers and pilings that still remained in the water.

    I'm shooting away pre-dawn and trying to get an angle on where the sun would rise. I stop for a moment to just look out over the bay and size up the situation when I hear the crunching sound of tires rolling over the old oyster shell parking area resonating across the silent morning air. The sound kind of made the hair on my neck prickle, because this spot was pretty much deserted long ago. I turned to look and see who was coming up behind me in the darkness. It was a cop! He parked facing the bay and did his paperwork before his shift change. I was kind of glad to have him at my back. lol

  • Jacek June 3, 2011 03:18 am

    Great tips. You're absolutely right. I know a lot of people with the 3rd option. They simply shy to take pictures front of other people, some of them even say is strange to take pictures with people around them. For me I don't care what people think if they see me walking and taking pictures with a big telephoto lens. I agree you have to practise and overcome the fears if you want to be a better photographer. And great tip about slowing down, it's true. With rushing constantly you can miss a lot of opportunities.

  • Sunj June 3, 2011 03:13 am

    Being at early 40s I am caught in between - needing a reading glass for closer vision and fighting the embarassment of wearing a bi-focals.

  • jinnymaer June 3, 2011 03:09 am

    Great article.... I'm most often guilty of #1 these days and have to admit that I never thought of always taking my small point & shoot!! I also agree that the manuals are less than helpful for most DSLR's. When I got my first SLR it was a Canon AV-1 and pretty much everything I learned about bracketing, composition, etc. came from the little manual that came with it because they included examples of most major points. The manual that came with my Rebel is nowhere near as helpful and as a result I have never really experimented with what it will allow me to do with it, I'm just beginning to do that now and I've had the camera for 3 years!!! I have also started to give myself weekly assignments, in addition to the ones given here, and that has been fun and educational. I have found DPS to be the most informative and helpful site I've found.

  • Katie Stern June 3, 2011 03:08 am

    I know #3 used to be a problem for me. I learned a valuable lifelong lesson: Surround yourself by the people who believe in you. I was a stock photographer who could only make stock photographs, even though I really wanted to branch out into more expressive photography. Then I began to surround myself with other photographers who believed in experimentation and personal expression. Our photographic goals matched, and that made all the difference. By learning how other photographers express their visual ideas and getting feedback from them, I greatly expanded my own horizons.

    Now when I show my photos, I match the photos I display to my viewing audience. I even carefully select images to show my own family. It isn't reasonable to expect non-photographers to appreciate all of my images.

    In my photography textbook, Photo 1: An Introduction to the Art of Photography, I teach readers how their cameras work and how to create the images they want. It's so important to give yourself permission to make photographs that please you.

  • ant June 3, 2011 03:04 am

    I am also having these problems, especially the point 3 affects a lot. :(

  • Trep Ford June 3, 2011 02:58 am

    I'll add one more reason why most people's photography doesn't improve ... they assume that learning what they need to learn will be too hard, and so they never try to make their photography better.

    SO many people whose photography COULD be so much better simply assume that it's hard to learn how to take consistently good or great photos, so they never even look into the ways to improve it. And granted, a lot of photography books make it look and sound very technically challenging. But it doesn't have to be. With today's gear, it's extremely easy to learn to take wonderful photos. The simplest and most stress free way ... find a good teacher and take some classes.

    My wife assumed that her photography would never get any better (it was pretty good, as she has a natural eye for composition) because she thought cameras were "technical" and she "isn't technical". After we spent several outings shooting together, she realized that with just a few key adjustments, none of them technically demanding, she was taking much better and much more consistent pictures.

    Opening ourselves to learning in the first place is always the most important step in improving anything.

  • Huck Huckabay June 3, 2011 02:57 am

    I sometimes get razzed for taking my camera to an event. However..... at the end of the event, the very ones who kidded me are the first to ask that I email them the best shots. I'm considered way above average with my photography simply because I take the time to crop and do a simple color tweak to a few of them. Makes a big difference in changing a routine photo into an impressive one...

  • ed June 3, 2011 02:50 am

    I agree with not slowing down. Its hard to see images at 60 mph. (my personal nemesis)
    As for what people think? I personally am almost 60 yrs old and everyday regret the things I could have done and didn't. The wonderful passions and experiences I missed, the things I have seen and didn't have my camera. We only go around once and at the end I would hate to think I lived my life and pursued my passions based on what someone else may think. As Nike says just do it and who cares what someone else thinks. What would have happened if Ansel Adams worried about what people thought. I took a picture of the cn tower and I heard some people on the street corner saying "you know that is the perfect angle".
    Live every minute to the fullest and enjoy what you love to do.

  • william munoz June 3, 2011 02:44 am

    I love number 2 , How many times have I been going down the road and look at a great scene only to keep driving, and I usually am early to whatever is so important to get to !!!

  • Mikell June 3, 2011 02:39 am

    Great points...

    I just got a DSLR camera recently...after years with a good point and shoot...and I am taking the new camera with me everywhere I go and snapping all the time...to experiment and learn every day.

    One other thing I would add...that would greatly help a lot of beginning photographers...is to spend time post processing your images. Although it's good to take a perfectly framed and exposed photo...so many pictures can be improved upon with a little cropping and a few adjustments. Sometimes I see photos from friends and I want desperately to do these "improvements" for them... I know how much better they would be.

    That might be the fastest way to improve as a photographer...and also to learn how to compose better in camera shots next time.

  • Pashminu Mansukhani June 3, 2011 02:36 am

    One another reason, why most people do not 'grow' is due to the lack of will to experiment. Maybe new locations, different angles different settings etc. are some of the few points to be kept in mind.

  • Martyn Holden June 3, 2011 02:35 am

    I do take my camera every where I go, but i get so into the moment that I don't take the time to analyze my pictures and exposure. Then I end up waisting allot of shots and opportunities. So I try again and by slowing down and checking my shots as the light changes just a smidgen , I can readjust for it. I enjoy then using my histogram to check each batch, and to set up for the next one. Marty

  • Joe Quinn June 3, 2011 02:31 am

    I agree with all 3. I now carry my camera everywhere (sometimes to my wife's displeasure); the result is the camera mechanics (i.e., settings) are becoming second nature to me. I don't have to "reintroduce" myself to how my camera works every time I go on vacation.

    I'm working on number 2: new angles, very close up vs. close vs. wide angle. I have found a lot of times less is more. (Also to my wife's displeasure since it now takes 2 to 4 times longer a new location that it would have if I just took quick snapshots.)

    And I've finally grown out of number 3. Instead of feeling shy or foolish, I tell myself that the people around me are in awe (I know, big ego) of the pics I am taking and wondering why they didn't think of it first.

  • anupartha June 3, 2011 02:30 am

    Yes, how true.' You are Worried what Others Will Think'. I have missed many of lovely chances because of this feeling. Especially for the shots for which I may have to sit/kneel in a public place!!!. Well I know I have to come over it eventually, but how and when is the question:).

  • sarah June 3, 2011 02:27 am

    this is a terrific post...it's given me so many things to think about. plus i feel comforted knowing that i'm not the only one struggling with these issues!

    i totally relate to numbers 2 and 3...though mostly to #3. sometimes my husband has to prod me to take shots, especially since he knows i'm a little shy about it. "i don't want to bother people"..."i don't want to be in the way"...but then inevitably i end up regretting that i didn't take the shot.

    my mantra is this: "i will not let visual apathy set in." i read it in a book--visual poetry--and thought it was brilliant.

  • Rachael Taylor June 3, 2011 02:25 am

    Wow, I feel like you were talking right to my soul! I'm going to carry this article with me everywhere (along with my main camera!) to remind myself to slow down and stop worrying about other people! A million times thank you!

  • Gerry Johnson June 3, 2011 02:16 am

    Well stated! So many people tell me " I could never take photos like yours!". I attempt to enlighten them that I started in the same place and just took lots of photos and read a lot!
    Also, a very " disempowering" feeling is that they must have " better gear" to make better photos. Again I work to educate them that it is their view/ vision that creates the photo, and the gear is just a tool. But, as you know, convincing folks is not easy!
    BTW- I refer every photographer to this newsletter as a primary resource!

  • Gerry Johnson June 3, 2011 02:15 am

    Well stated! So many people tell me " I could never take photos like yours!". I attempt to enlighten them that I started in the same place and just took lots of photos and read a lot!
    Also, a very " disempowering" feeling is that they must have " better gear" to make better photos. Again I work to educate them that it is their view/ vision that creates the photo, and the gear is just a tool. But, as you know, convincing folks is not easy!
    BTW- I refer every photographer to this newsletter as a primary resource!

  • Francis Koo June 3, 2011 02:10 am

    Yes, you are right. I have these problems. Thank you.

  • Karen June 3, 2011 02:03 am

    Yes, guilty of all three.

    A few years ago we were in Cades Cove in the Smokies Mountains, a prime bear viewing spot. My husband pulled over so I could take a picture of a tree silhouetted against the sky. Everyone behind us stopped and jumped out too created a traffic jam, because they thought I was taking a picture of a bear. I was so embarrassed, I was afraid to have him stop again.

  • Tom June 3, 2011 02:00 am

    One thing I've noticed is that many people don't learn from other photographers images - their good work and bad. Studying other photographer's work can certainly help you learn composition and object placement. Find an image you think is appealing, and try to figure out exactly why it's so attractive. Where is the light source? How is it composed? Check out the EXIF data (if possible) to see the settings. This also works with images that just don't look right. See what was done and try to improve upon it- how would you take the same image?

    Shooting with a friend is also and excellent way to improve. If you're both shooting the same subject, share your results to discover each others take on the subject. Even while you're shooting, talk to one another about the process of composing the image - bounce ideas off each other.

    I've found that over the years this has worked for me. An in recent years, helping beginner photographers has forced me to better analyze my work and create even better images.

  • PeteinSD June 3, 2011 01:54 am

    Guilty on all counts. Just a twist on #2: my trouble is I'm often out walking with others without a camera. I see something I want to photograph but feel hurried because the group is forging on and the result is lousy framing.

  • Richard Healy June 3, 2011 01:30 am

    Definitely guilty of the sin of 'not taking it with you'

  • Teo June 3, 2011 01:26 am

    I think its important to spend time ALONE with your camera. That may sound strange, but I believe a lot of why the 3 things listed above happen is because the pressure is on when you are not alone. This is especially true of taking photographs with other photographers. Also, my photo instructor in college always said this, and it remains one of my favorite thoughts on photography - focus on MAKING the photo, NOT TAKING the photo. There is a big difference there, and if the creative process becomes just that: a process. Then I think you are more apt to slow down and think about the image. Photography's 'instant gratification' aspect can be its biggest drawback! Thanks for the article, and all the responses folks!

  • Michael R. June 3, 2011 01:22 am

    I'd like to add a reason not mentioned.

    #4 Post-shoot review process!!

    For me, a big hurdle is coming up with a good post-shoot review process. Going out and shooting and getting 200 shots is great, but I get stressed out getting those shots out of the camera and onto the computer. How to save them on the file system? How to bring them into LightRoom? How to determine to throw things away? How to determine what is worth saving? How to determine if a shot is print-and-frame worthy? How to determine which ones to share? Flickr? How best to get critiques?

    I'm getting stressed out just thinking about it!

  • Jose Samson June 3, 2011 01:21 am

    my goodness! the moment i read number one's title i just can't help but to do the facepalm. HAHAHA. :)) i was stricken by each number and was proven guilty by all chances. from this time, i promise to always bring my camera with me and to work out my confidence in positioning my camera and taking that once in a lifetime shot setting aside what others may think of me. THANK YOU for helping me realize all these shortcomings in my part DPS! More Power! God bless. :)

  • Jody June 3, 2011 01:20 am

    I think camera manuals get in the way too. Mine is almost incomprehensible in some sections. And, it would be so nice, if they would include some examples of how you might use some of the features of the camera. For example, I use my multiple exposure feature sometimes but didn't realize that I could do in camera 'Ortonizing' until last week when a friend showed me what she was doing. Oh duh! I might not use it a lot but it's a fun feature....

  • Jody June 3, 2011 01:20 am

    I think camera manuals get in the way too. Mine is almost incomprehensible in some sections. And, it would be so nice, if they would include some examples of how you might use some of the features of the camera. For example, I use my multiple exposure feature sometimes but didn't realize that I could do in camera 'Ortonizing' until last week when a friend showed me what she was doing. Oh duh! I might not use it a lot but it's a fun feature....

  • Jody June 3, 2011 01:19 am

    I think camera manuals get in the way too. Mine is almost incomprehensible in some sections. And, it would be so nice, if they would include some examples of how you might use some of the features of the camera. For example, I use my multiple exposure feature sometimes but didn't realize that I could do in camera 'Ortonizing' until last week when a friend showed me what she was doing. Oh duh! I might not use it a lot but it's a fun feature....

  • Dave Armstrong June 3, 2011 12:56 am

    I'm an amateur who is intimidated by his camera. I have the Canon 5D MkII, and it's much smarther than I am. I keep experimenting and am making progress. I am excited about the possibilities and try to learn something new about every day.

  • marie June 3, 2011 12:52 am

    Ah number 1 is my killer! I have missed so many amazing shots because I've left my camera sitting in my house, yesterday I drove by this beautiful pond with these two amazing white birds sitting on it, the lightening was perfect, and of course, me without my gear :(

  • John June 3, 2011 12:49 am

    I am a victim of all three reasons...I'm working on them.

    I'd add another reason and that is photographers should keep studying their craft. Reading blogs, newsletters, online video tutorials, etc.. Spend a couple of hours each week (or more) drilling down on a particular camera or post-processing functionality and the results can be nearly instantaneous. Over several months, it can transform your pictures from their current level.

  • Pete Belardino June 2, 2011 10:05 am

    Good one Doug....best response yet !! Perfect solution !!

  • Doug June 2, 2011 09:51 am

    @Celesta - Pretend you know what you're doing. You'd be amazed how much a bit of fake confidence can do for you. They don't know you're faking it and after a while, you won't be. You might also want to practice an introduction; have some bit of verbiage baked into your brain so you don't stand there going 'buh buh buh...can I, like, umm, you know, take, umm, your picture?'
    Really, it's a mental thing. Once you give up the fear of appearing stupid, you can do anything.

  • Celesta June 2, 2011 05:36 am

    I love taking photographs of people in the streets, but am very shy of approaching them to ask if it's ok to take a photo. It's a communicational or social barrier I find difficult to overcome. Any advice? :)

  • sumit June 1, 2011 02:08 am

    I have gone through the mentioned 3 ailments a few times. The worst though is the "shut down". It's like you look at everything and you feel like, been there done that, and can't think of why you would want to take the shot. It's like all systems shut down - especially if you have a camera with you. Funny, eh?

  • ScottC May 31, 2011 04:01 pm

    I also find myself going back to my "comfort" mode a lot, Aperture priority, when I really should be practicing manual and other modes.


  • Paul May 31, 2011 08:42 am

    Some good 'back to basics' advice here, especially the one about slowing down!

  • Poprock Photography May 31, 2011 05:40 am

    Totally agree. I used to suffer from what people might think about me when I break my camera out, so usually my camera is front and center and people comment more, "this is the first time, I've seen you without your camera."

    It also takes a little getting used to, if you lug one of your larger cameras around, but now, I would go without my clothes on a trip instead of going without my camera. Even my external flash is in my purse. Total nerd.

  • Linus May 31, 2011 01:26 am

    I cannot agree more with the 3rd point. It is something most of us face when starting with our photography experiments. I tried the first point, to carry my camera with me always; but later it I found it not very practical as it was little difficult to carry and take out and be careful not to bump the camera...sometime it takes away the fun of place you are visiting. Eventually, I moved to what has been mentioned in point-2; using a phone camera. The quality suffers in comparison of SLR but the composition idea remains same :). I find it good. Here is one shot I took with iPhone camera.


  • Comodrom May 31, 2011 12:42 am

    Ha.... this week i was describing to my wife this fear i have in front of others... i'mean, what they will think... today i'm really shy with my camera in front a lot of people

    Number 3.. guilty for sure....

  • THE aSTIG @ CustomPinoyRides.com May 30, 2011 07:58 pm

    Wow! You never could've said it any better. I completely agree! And to be honest, I've found myself guity from time to time of some of the items above.

    My focus is on car photography, as you can see on my site --> http://CustomPinoyRides.com. So when joining car shows, and events, there are usually a lot of other photographers you have to compete with. For indoor events, lighting is tricky. You'd need high ISO and often, a flash, just to get sharp photos with no blur. A lot of them (including me, some time ago) have to shoot with an external flash.

    Nowadays, I don't care anymore what people will think. I ALWAYS bring a tripod. Yesterday, I just attended a show, and I was the only one shooting with a tripod. I cause traffic, I don't care. I get in other people's way, I don't care. I'm slow, I don't care. I look stupid, I don't care. All I care about is that my photos turned out awesome!!! I'll post them up this week. Watch out for it!

  • Jen May 30, 2011 03:06 pm

    I always have a camera with me (often just my phone, but if I can take my DSLR, I do), and due to a 365 project, I'm able to stop and take the time to shoot at least one *different* photo per day, but #3 is my kryptonite.

    I simply cannot take photos of people, or if there are people *looking* at me. I freeze up, and miss some decent shots. Just this morning, I was checking out some architecture in a part of the city I don't usually get to, and didn't take a single shot because it was peak hour and there were lots of people around.

    I really need to learn to stop worrying what people think of me.

  • Steve Geoglein May 30, 2011 01:49 pm

    Good points all. Since I picked my hobby and passion back up I have my DSLR with me at all times. My biggest issue though is street photography. I'm just not that good at working with people. On the other hand I have had experience with film and trying to make the most out of a roll of film has caused me to slow down and study things before I take a photograph. It is a habit I am happy to carry over to digital. Why rush? Life is just too short to not enjoy every minute of it.

  • sigfried baterina May 30, 2011 11:12 am

    what holds a photographer from improving is fear of criticisms.
    i think a photography partner would be a great help. that way you won't look stupid(alone). at the same time you'll have someone to share ideas with. when shooting portraits, you can take turns shooting while the other one assists(light placement/deflectors/reflectors and light blocking blocking),an extra pair of eyes can also help in finding imperfections on frame(subject/location/etc). in my case, my wife's gaining interest in photography...best thing is that, i always have the best portrait subject when i'm with her.

  • Simon May 30, 2011 08:46 am

    I don't always have a camera with me, but tend to look at the world as if I do. If I see another photographer lining up a shot, I try standing near them, to see what they're seeing.

  • Rick V May 30, 2011 03:55 am

    I haven't found a reliable way to keep from falling back into snapshot PJ mode when travelling. It gets me a good record of where I've been and what I've seen, but not what I would call "good" photography. Maybe it's just #2 in disguise. Too many shots available and not enough time to get them all.

  • Ashgeo May 29, 2011 11:13 pm

    It is such a relief to gear the 3rd issue is a common problem. I love the idea of going on walks on my own and taking pics of things but I feel so conspicuous, that people are thinking 'what on earth could he possibly think is good about that picture?' as I stand there framing something up.
    I shall now definitely just simply not care. Now I know it is a problem shared, it us a problem halved.

  • Richard Hall May 29, 2011 07:51 pm

    guilty as charged on all 3 accounts. One of my biggest fears is taking pictures of people, things that dont talk I have no problem with. I also dont really like my photos for many reasons, now this dislike has got me into a rut that is difficult to extract myself from, but I will one day, hopefully soon.

  • himanshu May 29, 2011 06:49 pm

    I think people do not look at their screen much often. This way you don't realize your mistakes and improve on them.

  • Onno Zwikker May 29, 2011 05:58 pm

    I want to add some more "Stupidly Simple Reasons Why My Photography Does Not Improve":

    I am not good enough and because off that I do not take pictures, or not on a way I should, so I do not improve.
    I do not publish and so I do not get feedback, so I do not improve.
    I do not set any goals or make (small) projects in photography, so I do not improve.
    I am to hard on myself, so I do not improve(it blocks me).

    Have to have a trigger to get me out off this situation. Well maybe this is the trigger.

    Suggestion; Maybe there are some more experienced photographers who want to be a kind off mentor to a newbie photographer?

    Thanks for listening.

  • Leslie Nicole May 29, 2011 04:13 pm

    Another part of "what people may think" can also come about by getting comfortable in a style that you've gotten pretty good at. I know I have to watch this. It's enjoyable getting featured and comments on art sites and forums for your work, so it's hard to try out subject matters, camera and lighting techniques, and processing styles that break out of your comfort zone.

    I've thought about having a regular feature where I encourage people to submit something that challenged them - especially if it didn't work. Go wild - make it ugly or if your style is gritty, make it pretty!;-)

  • Sheri Pruett May 29, 2011 12:32 pm

    I am definitely a #2 offender. I have a camera with me almost 100% of the time - dSLR, point and shoot, and or iPhone. I am not paralyzed to shoot at all. My biggest challenge is to SLOW DOWN! I get so excited over some of the things I shoot that I lose my thoughts about setting up manual mode exactly how I should have. Recently in a Scott Kelby book, I read to leave my camera on program mode to get those shots that catch you off guard in a walk/drive around. Then if there's time, change to manual mode and keep shooting. I am trying to slow down and SEE the shot before I just shoot like a madwoman!

  • Nick May 29, 2011 12:19 pm

    Wow...I've notice something that I do a lot is bring my camera with me when I go places.. its something that I really need to do, but sometimes I see a good shot and wished I brought my camera with me, but sometimes its just isn't practical all the time.. but I'm totally going to bring my camera with me a lot more that I read this now and I have thought about people think when they see me caring my camera.. I shouldn't care what they think and I don't think I will anymore. Its not like i'm some tourist with some crappy point and shoot, you know. But i'm going to try to bring my camera around with me more often I guess, I don't really want to bring it when I go out to dinner with the family.. though I seen others do it. I just don't want to get food all over $2,000 equipment, you know what I mean?

    But thank you for this post, it really did change a few things about me and I'm going to keep this post available to me so I can read it over and over when I get into a slum.

  • anne-marie May 29, 2011 07:01 am

    yep basically practice, practice, practice. . . ;)
    Take shots everyday - it becomes second nature - you won't mind the 'look' - friends & family get used to you. . .lol. . .;) even people at cafes etc don't seem to mind & are more curious than not. . .
    USe which ever camera there is available phone, PnS, DSLR even other peoples - If a friend has their camera & for some insane reason I don't I often ask to use it (as they don't anyway! ;) . . . . I even offer to take the 'family' or group shots if I see people out and about snapping at tourist sites - cause there is always someone missing and its all fun & practice. . ;)
    My main problem is probably trying new techniques - slow/fast shutter, flash, joining a club is probably they way to motivate me in that regard. . . ;)

  • Juan May 29, 2011 05:54 am

    I'm guilty of sins number one of two. I let people see what I produce almost all the time so I guess number three is not so troublesome for me in this sense. Another issue with photography is being daring, by means of becoming somebody else both in self-portraiture and in themes. We tend to stick to what works better for us, but rarely challenge ourselves. That is one of my biggest problems: getting out of the ordinary. This is a great psychological post you know!!

  • JC May 29, 2011 02:06 am

    I fall in the second point — I'm travelling to fast. I have my camera here with me everyday! But for months on end I've never pulled it out of the bag. I'm simply to busy to slow down...

  • Iris May 29, 2011 12:53 am

    One of my photography friends mentioned that he takes his 'reminder-camera' everywhere. I have started to take my own reminder camera (point-and-shoot) daily. My main issue is that I always think about what others think; I need to learn to just do this for myself :)

    Thanks for the great article.

  • Cathy May 29, 2011 12:12 am

    I have been guilty of all three. To help with number 1 I bought a roots camera bag that looks like a purse and therefore is much easier to haul around then a more traditional camera bag and less likely to get stolen. For some reason a few thousand dollars of camera equipment is more attractive then the few dollars that most people carry around in a purse. I found I wasn't taking the camera because locking it in the car wasn't an option because of too cold or too hot or too likely to get stolen. Now I tend to haul it with me much more often. I'm trying to leave at least 15-20 minutes early for appointments so if I see something to shoot on the way to the appointment I can stop and take the photo not race by regreting that I don't have time to stop. As for the last one I'm also Canadian and have been bit by the polite bug and intruding is always a bit of an issue.

  • Pete Belardino May 28, 2011 11:30 pm

    My shots started to improve when I ....
    A) Started shooting in manual only,
    B) Joined forums to get other's feedback (hard in the beginning.......
    C) Looked at shots from others and asked them about the shot.
    I still am shy to bring the camera out around a lot of people. Not for fear of looking odd (don't need a camera for that), but because everyone around this Upstate New York area HATES cameras ! Some have accused me of being from a Tax Collectors office, Zoning Board, Police Agency.....you name it !!!!

  • Amanda May 28, 2011 10:14 pm

    and when I say "studying", I simply mean looking at lots and lots of pictures and identifying why they work, what you like about them, etc. :)

  • Amanda May 28, 2011 10:08 pm

    @ martin, those are problems I wish I had (owning a hassy, having the means to buy a leica) :P
    @ tashique - obviously, I don't know where you live - maybe it is a real problem. but you can take great pictures on cameras that don't look worth stealing. you don't have to haul top-of-the-line (or even semi-pro) gear everywhere :)

    I agree on all three counts, and also with those who say that studying art (including photography) and getting feedback on your work is a huge factor in improving, as a beginner especially but at any level.

  • Kathie M Thomas May 28, 2011 09:22 pm

    Not being prepared to try something new. I love experimenting.

  • Tashique Alam May 28, 2011 08:41 pm

    theres also the part where i am scared my gear will get robbed :/

  • Doug May 28, 2011 07:44 pm

    #4 (or maybe 3.a) - Go ahead, ask if it's OK.
    This applies mainly for shooting humans but can be appropriate for shots that might involve personal property. If you see a great picture and aren't sure the person is OK with you taking the shot, go up, introduce yourself, ask permission. On rare occasions you'll be turned down but more often than not, you'll gain a new friend and possibly an opportunity to an even better shot.

  • Martin May 28, 2011 07:37 pm

    the 1st one is probably the most serious. I can't take my hassy everytime with me, that's why I;m considering buying a leica or that kind of thing.

  • vicshar May 28, 2011 07:30 pm

    I'm a real beginner at photography. I remember enrolling in a night school course in the 70's, then not being able to get there, buying an Olympus Pen prior to heading overseas as a teenager on a very tight budget, only to have it stolen in the first week and not owning a camera again until being inspired by some of the wonderful pics on Flickr and reading the articles and forums here at DPS. So at 50 I take my beloved 550D everywhere but I suffer from #3 in both the capture and in allowing others to critique the results (ie I never think any of my photos are good enough for anyone to see). I think another my big problem for me, is slowing down in another way....not in terms of seeing the world of photographic opportunity around me but in racing ahead trying to do more than I am capable of, turning out shots that are not what I wanted and changing settings willy nilly without actually learning from my mistakes. I guess, trying to run before I can walk. I think finding a buddy to photograph with and allowing others to present feedback will help me. One day....when I get the courage.... :o)

  • Angela May 28, 2011 07:02 pm

    I totally relate with the first point, I always forget my camera unless I'm specifically going to take photos. I missed so many great occasions that now, even if it's pretty heavy, I always have my D50 with me.

  • Kapil May 28, 2011 06:53 pm

    Great article. Point 1 and Point 3 could sometimes be hampering my photos.

    Point 1 - I dont carry a proper camera everyday while going to work, but I do have my N8 which I consider as a good camera with me all the time but still I probably "don't go out of the way" to take pictures everyday while going to work and may be also because nowadays and otherwise too, taking photos in a city like Mumbai grabs a lot of eyeballs - security wise and in general too. There could be questions asked if you don't have a proper photographer ID. But having said this, I do my share of photography if I really want to.

    Point 3 - It is connected to what I said above and also the fact that questions are asked - On a simple photowalk day even though we were in a group in Mumbai, I was taking a picture of a old govt building with me "standing on the road" - the police / security standing inside the building waved to me and called me in asking me questions. I just had to tell them politely a) I will delete the photos b) We are in a photo group and are taking photos as hobby. Who will argue with police ??. Hearing me and showing little bit of their power they let me go :)

    what other simple things hold you (or other photographers) back from improving?
    Point 3 perhaps ..

    what tips and solutions would you give others facing these problems?
    if faced with a situation which I have mentioned above - just need to have presence of mind to get out of these situations

  • Annemieke May 28, 2011 06:20 pm

    All of them are very valid! I get asked about photography regularly and my no. 1 advice is: read the manual of your camera!! Number two being; understand the four basics: aperture, shutter speed, ISO and focal length.
    (and I usually refer people to this website). Trying out and comparing shots on your computer would be number three.

    One that I can personally relate to is to have fun with your camera, and while shooting. That's much more important than what other people think, either of you or your photographs.

    What I have learned is to show respect when you want to photograph people. Often I worry about what they think, whereas they are usually quite pleased with the attention they are getting. That's in this part of the world, I imagine it may not be the same everywhere.

    Best regards, Annemieke (Istanbul, Turkey)

  • Jeroen diderik May 28, 2011 05:56 pm

    As I recognize all of the above, most improvement has come from sharing my work on Flickr and working with the comments and learning from other people's achievements. Dare to share, especially if you think it's not good enough. Those are the shots you want to learn from!

  • Adrian Carrick May 28, 2011 05:22 pm

    I totally agree with your "are you worried with what others will think" section .
    Don't know why but always find myself taking photos from the fringe of the location . Why , i have know idea but feel a bit self conscious out there in the middle of things
    Maybe i need a photo buddy! , anybody in the Coolangatta area feel the same ? , get in touch!

  • Mike May 28, 2011 03:53 pm

    I'm definitely sometimes #2 and always #3! Sometimes my #3 fears make #2 happen even more. (that's correct either way you read it!)

    Anyway, nice to know I'm not the only one.

  • Remy May 28, 2011 01:47 pm

    i would add one more reason:
    4. Habit to use equipment purchases/upgrades as means to improve photography
    i had been using a mediocre e-510 for past 4 years, every time I felt disappointed with my camera and needed an upgrade, I googled for a solution to my camera's limitations and eventually prolonged the life of my camera learning something new out of it.
    A beginner should always start basic and learn to push their equipment to the max. Do not jump to upgrade or purchase new equipment, there are definitely solutions to your current limitations and you will learn so much more in your quest to find the solutions.Somehow i feel starting with too good a camera with lots of AF points, high dynamic range, high fps may also limit the beginner to point and shoot.

  • Vikramaditya Bagri May 28, 2011 12:40 pm

    I kind of agree with all the points you have mentioned above, but I think I would like to add another point to your list.

    That is: I believe going through photographs taken by great/known photographers is another way of helping you grow and change your perspective. By doing so we can see another aspect of taking a shot of the same subject or location. I am not trying to state here that we should copy them, but it teaches us how we could think differently and experiment while we are taking shots outside.

    One of the greatest photographers of India is Mr. Raghu Rai. He is my idol and my guru. I keep following his work to help me gain a new perspective in photography. I would like to explain my point here by giving you an example.

    I have been to Taj Mahal in the past many a times to take pictures but there was a problem; I was taking the same old mundane photographs that the world was taking and all of them looked the same. That is when I started realizing that taking a perfect picture is not just the only concern. We should look at a different perspective of the same subject or location and for that there is no better way than to see what others have taken. After looking at his work and some other great photographers like Steve Mccurry and others, I tried to see things differently and I wanted to experiment. Then this year I again went to the Taj to take some snaps and I was really happy with the results. One of them is (link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vikrambagri/5466657684/in/photostream/).

    So being by your self helps you keep your originality and by looking at great people's work it helps you refine it. My two pieces of advice is to buy photobooks or coffee table books of your favorite photographers to grow beyond your limits.


  • George Dewey Powell May 28, 2011 12:38 pm

    I take my D7000 with me, every time, every where......
    I shoot freely and once home, look at the comp and framing to be sure, and then lighting at a minimum before deleting the majority of those taken, but I generally come away with better ideas. Working in a technical field for 40 years has led me to far too much of a zero/one, on/off, yes/no kind of a life, so working on creativity, even if it involves the mundane or dull is also an advantage, at least to me.

    Oh, I almost forgot, I love my camera and there is no therapy in the world like photography!

  • Cindi May 28, 2011 12:10 pm

    I'm guilty of number 3. Being Canadian does NOT help at all! We're very polite, and respectful of privacy and personal space, as a general cultural rule. Street photography is really challenging for me. I'm doing more of that with my iPhone because it's less obtrusive than my Canon SLR.

    These are good tips and maybe we all need reminders of them occasionally.

  • Glenn May 28, 2011 11:47 am

    I"m always asking people if they have a camera. With today's small cameras there's no reason not to have one with you. My photographic quote is this... "If you are not looking you will never see"... And when in doubt, you shoot first then worry about whether or not it was OK to do so after you get the shot.

    If one loves photography, and they are serious about it, there's no reason to fail at any of these. If you can't master the basics, how do you expect to grow...

  • Aizatk May 28, 2011 11:40 am

    Great article. I myself bring my camera to almost everywhere. Else my iphone will be more than sufficient ;)

  • Harold May 28, 2011 11:23 am

    Yes, those things and they don't bother to learn the basics of photography. Learn how to see things in a new light. Avoid cluttered backgrounds. Understand lighting. Move around and change your perspective and sometimes you have to go where the action is. Shoot a lot and use whatever you have; cell phone or whatever it doesn't matter...

  • Kate May 28, 2011 11:22 am

    I Would like to take my camera with me more often, however sometimes you need to lock it in the car. The car can get very hot. Is this ok for your equipment ?

  • Tricia May 28, 2011 10:57 am

    Very guilty of #3. People are more cautious of other people taking pictures. The good thing that this brings about is that photographers are more responsible with how they take pictures. I feel as if it's just like the internet - like asking the owner's permission to borrow a picture that you like of theirs that you wish to place on your website. Sometimes, I don't know if I should follow an almost similar etiquette when taking pictures of others. Photos that I love to take and look back at are candid 1s. Sometimes though, I feel as if I'm invading a very private moment. I can't help but feel uncomfortable afterwards. I want to be able to not just enjoy the pictures that I took but also feel at peace when I review them. I want that 'Aaahh' moment with a :) on my face.

    Given this, do you have any suggestions as to how to take candid photos? I can always play around with my camera but I can't do that all the time with the subjects.

    Thanks very much for the help!

  • Rio H. May 28, 2011 10:55 am

    i try to take my hubby out photographing with me (he's my guide-- he's been photographing long before i had).

    these days, i don't get much chance to bring my camera too.. unfortunately, i have a work-home schedule, without much room to go anywhere else for the most part. i've also brought my camera out during my lunchbreaks but the areas around me are dull.. i've taken pictures of flowers and walls and trash cans.. and uhh, i'm simply bored with those things. i continue to look on google map to see if there are other places near me!

  • AliasAlice May 28, 2011 10:49 am

    You make excellent points in your article. I have several pictures in my mind of photos I might have taken if I had had my camera with me. That I carry it everywhere now doesn't get them back, of course...

    While I don't have any problem with people looking at me funny if I'm couching on the ground to photograph raindrops on a leaf, or an interesting manhole cover, I do hesitate when I see looks of horror on the faces of people who spot me holding my camera, even before I point it anywhere. They're justifiably concerned I might be planning to take shots of them. I can't stand people who shove cameras in my direction, as if I'm just part of the scenery and have no right to control who can use my image, so I completely understand the concern of those on the other end of the lens when I'm out shooting.

    A while back, I saw a documentary about portrait photography, with a featured segment about a man walking around New York, boldly taking photos of people on reading on park benches and buying oranges at a market and waiting for a bus. He wasn't just shooting general landscapes with people scattered generally around --these were impromptu, unrequested portraits. He just walked right up to them, shot, and walked off. Not a word requesting permission or offering thanks. The documentary hailed him as a genius, but I found the whole concept offensive. If he's making his reputation on stolen images, he doesn't deserve his reputation.

    The image of that intrusive portrait-thief pops into my head when I take photos anywhere where people are around, looking at me like apprehensive squirrels, ready to dash up a tree. I think twice, and sometimes miss a good shot, but the look of relief on the person I didn't catch in the photograph I didn't take is worth it.

  • Victoria May 28, 2011 10:43 am

    This really hit me. I've been getting onto myself lately for not taking time to compose my pictures and just snapping at random. Some of the randoms ones turn out really nice, but I have better pictures when composed than when not. And then, of course, what will people think with this weird girl with a camera bent over on the side of the road with a baby in the backseat? Yeah...

  • Erik Kerstenbeck May 28, 2011 10:35 am


    I am loving all the comments to this post. Although I am not condoning taking uneeded risks, sometime it pays to get really close to a dynamic scene. Here I had to do a bit of careful scrambling over slippery rocks to get up close to the rushing run off of the lake in Yosemite. A telephoto could capture the details. This was very close to the water using a 10mm wideangle.

    And yes, people were looking at me like I was crazy - I knew what I was doing...I guess I fought against #3 again!


  • jetl May 28, 2011 10:30 am

    Good points. I notice I'm more able to let loose and not worry when I take pics when I'm traveling. I live in a small town, not much to see and take pics that I can't do around my home and yard. If I lived in a bigger more interesting city I'd go out during my days off to take pics. I really need to take my camera out more even if its just taking pics everyday around or outside the house.

  • Niki Jones May 28, 2011 08:42 am

    Always cursing myself for the first one. Another point (and where you I thought you were going with point 3) is worrying what people will think of your actual shots. I have so many photos on hard drives that I've never shown anyone then I'll see a photo somewhere and think 'I've got better shots than that'.
    Get your photos out there, even if you get criticism, use it to improve.

  • Wayne May 28, 2011 07:48 am

    I'm not guilty of #1, I frequently get some flack from the family because I take the camera pretty much everywhere I go.

    I'm certainly guilty of #2 and to some degree, #3.

  • dustin May 28, 2011 07:31 am

    A lack of physical conditioning is something that has limited me during the last year or so. I was fine, then I broke my foot. Gained weight because I was immobile. Stopped photographing. Then I started to have dental problems for whatever reason, and now that all that's over I plan to shed the weight and get back into a photo routine.

    I would imagine that anyone who lets themselves get out of shape for any reason has a harder time with photography.

  • moonlustie May 28, 2011 06:03 am

    Guilty of 2 and 3 - always take my camera everywhere. I have read about exposure over and over but I must be missing something as correct exposure is purely random and really don't know why I can't get it right. I find post processing really tedious and would really like to get things right in camera more often.

  • Rabbit May 28, 2011 05:27 am

    Numbers one and two are my enemy. I try to keep my camera handy, but that's not always possible. Even when I do have it, I rush to get a shot, or, I don't even think about composing it properly. As for the third, not a problem. Whenever I'm really wanting a shot, I don't think twice about what other people think. Most likely, I will NEVER see those people again. Thanks for the article. It has reminded me to slow down and to not only compose the shot, but to enjoy the experience.

  • Mike Starling May 28, 2011 05:25 am

    From my experience, two big reasons are:

    1) Not getting other's people's opinion of your work.

    2) Taking too much stock in other people's opinion of your work.

    Sounds contradictory I know. But hear me out. I have worked in magazines and newspapers for many years. When I wanted to start exhibiting my more artistic photos, I joined a local photographer's group to learn about this side of the photo world. Sharing my work with fellow photographers and gallery people gave me insights that have helped shape my artistic direction.

    The next, even more valuable lesson, was that you can never base your direction on what one person thinks, no matter how prestigious he or she may be in the art world. Show your work to 20 different people, you'll get 20 different opinions. It's always good to get technical advice and to get emotional reactions to your work, but in the end, you can't really listen to anyone else. You're the artist. You get to decide what you want to do. Once you get to that point, that's when the fun really begins.

  • Kim May 28, 2011 05:25 am

    I think another reason is that people are afraid to ask questions. When I see a great shot, or a neat edit, or even someone doing something I haven't seen I will ask them. It really is more helpful than trying to remember and google it later. That way I can ask other questions or even tell them that they are speaking too technical for me. :)

  • Amy May 28, 2011 05:18 am

    You described me in all three, but mostly the third one.....

  • Jean-Pierre May 28, 2011 04:26 am

    I agree with Grady. My purpose is to make nice photos, and people out there think that everyone's a perv.

    I think the only thing I would add to this perfect list is studying art. People see shallow dof and bokeh and go bonkers like that's all that makes a photograph. It's the story that makes a photo timeless. And you gain an appreciation for beauty by training your mind to see it.

    I took this photo with a disposable camera:


  • Daniel Ray May 28, 2011 04:19 am

    Very good observations. I'm guilty of all three. Mostly number 2, going to fast. I really have a hard time slowing down and stopping to see what's around me and number 3, worried what others think when I'm taking a photo.

  • Mark Klecha May 28, 2011 04:19 am

    I find people who hate getting critiqued never really improve there skills. I know someone who argues every comment even if you say something like "I love this picture and how it was composed a little dark though" they would get so angry over this.

  • Joseph May 28, 2011 04:03 am

    Being too much aware of what is going around me, and worrying unnecessarily about what others might think haunts me sometimes. Although I do tend to completely forget to take my camera with me as well sometimes, which is caused directly by the fast paced life and the rush of everything. Good article. Thanks for blatantly pointing them out and I shall aim at overcoming number 3!

  • Todd Ward May 28, 2011 03:53 am

    Your article is right on. I have been guilty of all. However, in the last year it is 2 & 3. I try to have my camera at all times.

  • Meghana May 28, 2011 03:42 am

    I have been guilty of all three. But the biggest one for me is #3.

  • Michael Temkin May 28, 2011 03:03 am

    I guess one of my biggest issues is workplace. I'm one of those Work-From-Home'ers for a large company and don't get a lot of outside time. There are some days the only time I go outside is to get the mail. By the end of the day I'm too tired to think about going out. Then there are other days when I do get out, I'm hitting reason #2 because I'm trying to catch up on the stuff I didn't get out to do during the week.

    What I've recently started doing is riding my bicycle first thing in the morning to get some added exercise. I tend to take my camera along with me (not too much gear, just the camera and a second lens, maybe some closeup filters just in case) and I make it a point to stop at various time to check out the scenery and what I can do with the composition (I ride in Creve Coeur Park (MO) and we have a lake, so there is usually plenty to shoot). The key, like you said, is to take your camera with you.

  • Marasca May 28, 2011 02:12 am

    Number 3 is definitely the one i most suffer with but i think you just need to detach yourself sometimes and if the shot requires lying down in the dirt whilst everyone around (you imagine) is staring at the loony with the camera, what the heck it's the end result that counts.


  • Eva May 28, 2011 01:52 am

    Generally speaking, studying other photographers photos has really helped me improve and get inspired. On a specific level, I think doing a post-photo analysis of EXIF data is important for growth, whether it's your own work or others you like. Sometimes, I get happy accidents and I try to learn from them by studying what the settings were and what the lighting conditions were, etc. On Flickr, I'm frequently looking at other photographers' EXIF data to see what settings they used to get a great shot. It's helped me exponentially.

  • Lena May 28, 2011 01:50 am

    Going too fast - that is definitely my big all time inhibitor! But what I do when I am not out shooting, is that I am constantly studying the different aspects of photography - one at a time, so I do not overload myself with too much at once. As an example, I started with ISO, then moved to Aperture. I am working with Exp. Comp. now, and hopefully soon as I find more time, Shutter Speed. When I get out shooting, I push myself to use what I had learned the prior week. One of the biggest things I think can inhibit others, is to never stop learning. :)

  • Mark Kenny May 28, 2011 01:42 am

    I was taught rule number one, you're not a photographer if you don't have a camera.

  • ulysses May 28, 2011 01:36 am

    My ultimate enemy is no 3!

  • GradyPhilpott May 28, 2011 01:25 am

    I think those reasons are valid. They certainly would keep anyone from using every available moment to use their cameras.

    I also believe that there are times to leave the camera at home and there have been articles on this site about such times.

    Slowing down long enough to find the interesting details in the world around us is extremely important, not only as photographers, but also simply as humans who want to appreciate the details of a world that is too often obscured by routine and interstate highways.

    As for the third, my problem is not the fear of looking stupid. I don't need a camera for that. I worry about intrusiveness in a culture that has become extremely privacy-conscious especially because of the internet and the fact that too many people abuse the privacy of others by posting pictures to the internet the consent of their subjects.

  • Ann Strober May 28, 2011 01:20 am

    I would take my camera to an event to practice. When someone tells me that they wish they had their camera with them, I give them my card so they can email me. I ofer to send them any shots I took. No charge. They are so grateful. I volunteer at a local animal shelter as needed to take photos for their database. They used 31 of my shots for their calendar. A local anaimal rescue place was the beneficiary of my own calendar sales. So people here are accustomed to me and my camera. My photos are well received.

  • Toria May 28, 2011 01:19 am

    Although my photography has improved a bit, mostly due to research, my biggest issue from this list is number three. I worry way too much about what others will think, which results to number one, not even taking the camera with me. No point in lugging around all those extra pounds if I already know I won't use it. I think another issue is that people don't do research or really try to learn how to use their cameras. They just stay in automatic mode.

  • Tom May 28, 2011 01:18 am

    I am heavily involved with a local camera club. I find a great inhibitor among members is fear of technology. They are afraid to test out settings on their digital cameras and explore the software on their PC's for fear of damaging either. This fear shows in their reluctance to broaden their photographic experience. So, they are back to shooting family, friends, and the odd scenic.

  • Shiblee Sadik May 28, 2011 01:15 am

    Perfect! I have all of them!

  • Arun May 28, 2011 01:01 am

    "Not shooting enough" is a very important factor. This gives opportunities to experiment and improve and be creative.


  • Bonnie Rannald May 28, 2011 12:59 am

    The biggest reason that I see with people's photography not improving is that they leave the camera on auto, allowing the camera to take the pics and never learn how to work the camera properly.

  • danico55 May 28, 2011 12:52 am

    We stress too much trying to take the perfect photo while photography should be fun and relaxing.

  • Rankit May 28, 2011 12:34 am

    Very true..couldn't agree more with this doc.

  • ErikKerstenbeck May 28, 2011 12:30 am


    I like reasons two and three of which I have been guilty of in the past. I have often seen people just rush through a vista snapping everything in sight like it were some kind of race to capture the most images. I now tend to stop, frame, set up a tripod if needed but always give the scene its due before execuring a shot or just walking away. It helps to be self critical.

    Rreason three is good too - i usd to worry that people thought I was being an eccentric Photographer, getting into strange positions, on the ground, against posts etc. I have come to realize that this is how I can get it done. Who cares what others think!

    This shot of Bridalveil Falls is an example. The mist was so thick that most shooters would run into the scene, snap a quicky and run out before getting soaked. I had the camera covered, examined the scene, turned my back to the mist, set exposure, got low and spun like a top to get the shot before the camera got soaked. I got soaked anyway but by taking my time I think it was a great image!