Annoying people with your photography habit

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I’ve learned over the years that there’s sometimes a fine line between enjoying your love of photography and just flat out annoying the pants off of the people around you. Depending on who those people are, different things may either make them curious about what you’re doing, make them think you’re crazy, or make them want to physically remove your camera from your hands. Here are some of mine, see if any of them sound familiar to you.

1. Lying on the ground in public to take a picture. My daughter is only seven but I actually saw her roll her eyes and heard her sigh when we were walking one day because I spotted a snail in the grass beside the sidewalk and needed to capture it with my camera. The thing is, a snail is very small and taking a shot from above doesn’t give much detail so naturally I laid down on the sidewalk, flat on my stomach, and fired off several shots. By the time she’s a teenager my daughter will likely refuse to go anywhere with me unless I leave my camera at home, but getting down on the ground is the only way to get a really nice perspective sometimes.

Mosey along

2. Using the flash at inopportune times. One night years ago my husband and I were driving in a friend’s car on our way back from an evening out. It was roughly 11 at night and obviously dark. We were driving across a bridge and I wanted to capture the lights of the Montreal skyline as we approached. It was unfortunate that it was only my second day using the point and shoot that I had at that time and hadn’t yet learned how to shoot without the flash in auto. I was sure that I had turned the flash off but, well, no. A flash firing in the dark is very bright, especially when it bounces off the windshield and into the driver’s eyes. Suffice it to say that I strongly urge you to avoid firing your flash in a moving vehicle at night. The good news is we didn’t end up driving into the guardrail or another car. Whew.

3. Taking photos of food. While he would never outright complain or tell me to stop, my husband is frequently mildly annoyed in an amused sort of way by my tendency to photograph the vast majority of my meals. I don’t know why I am compelled to do it, I just am. Maybe it’s because combining my love of photography with my love of food just makes it a natural thing to do, I don’t know. I do recommend it though; food photography is trickier than you might expect and requires a lot of practice (see some great food photography tips here). A great way to practice is to do it at home with your own food under different lighting situations and at different angles so you can see what works.

73/365 - Leftovers

4. Documenting every moment. I didn’t always feel the need to whip out my camera every second of the day but since having kids my camera is never far away and it’s rare that there’s a day where I don’t take a picture at least once. This can drive people crazy if they’re not used to it, especially if they’re not into photography themselves. When we have birthday parties there are always a couple of people who tend to run in the other direction when I inevitably pull my camera out. My motto is pretty much this: If you are one of those people who loves to document the important moments in your life, don’t let other people make you feel like you should stop; however please do respect others and don’t force your photography on them if they’re not photo fans!

5. Carrying a camera everywhere I go. He’s generally very accepting of my passion, but sometimes my husband will ask me, “do you REALLY need to bring your camera with you?!” I understand, because really, I shouldn’t technically need to bring my camera bag on a trip to the grocery store or to the post office. However, my defense is that you never know when you might see something that really catches your eye. Almost every time I have left my camera at home I’ve seen at least one thing that I wish I could photograph – such as yesterday when I picked my daughter up from a friend’s house only to end up meeting five 4-day-old kittens that the family had. I sure wished I had grabbed my camera on the way out!

I don’t always use it when I bring it along but I’m really happy that I had it on me the day that I spotted this opportunity. The umbrella might have still been there the next day, but the fog was long gone and the effect wouldn’t have been the same if I hadn’t captured it immediately. (It does bear noting that this was taken before I had really learned about composition and I would have approached it differently if I had known more back them.)

Lone umbrella

All in all, my annoying habits aren’t all that annoying for the most part I don’t think. What are your annoying habits when you’ve got a camera in hand?

All photos: Sherry Osborne

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  • len

    Had to email this post who doesn't quite understand. And NEVER leave home without at least a point-and-shoot!

  • Tiffany

    Ha! Awesome post, Sherry!

  • madhypnotist

    wow… pretty much nailed em all. Hard to explain to someone youve just started to date. But, there is a certain style of architecture I love to get pics of.. so.. no matter where we are.. or where we are going.. if I dont stop and take a picture of it.. I tag it on my gps… lol.. first few times its a “What?” then.. finally it turns into a “sigh” ..if they stay around long enough it turns into a laugh..even better if it turns into a “Hey, sweetheart, I think I just saw one down the street on my side.. ya wanna go check ?” YES!!

  • Bryan

    Funny article. There's a big difference between photographers and people who simply own a camera. We should try our best to avoid annoying others, but sometimes the picture must come first. Maybe you should write about the annoying things non-photographers do/say to photographers. “Why are you taking a picture of THAT?” is probably my biggest peeve.

  • lucy

    this is SO perfect. i admit to doing all of those. like any addiction, i get kind of nauseous and shaky when my camera is not close at hand.

  • sherryosborne

    Oh jeez Bryan, that drives me nuts as well. I'm taking a picture of THAT because I want a picture of THAT! Silly people! :)

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  • nash

    Taking my camera with me on a road trip and leaving it in th car wen all im going to do is go 4 a walk, then a buttrfly lands on ur hand 4 a minute and a long minute or there is a hawk redy to pounce on a living creature(his LUNCH) and its rite in front of you, thats stuff annoys me, then u take th camra hoping things like that would happen and of course it doesnt. waaa waa

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  • Anon

    Stand over here… smile… no wait, your eyes were closed… wait, the flash was off… ah no wait, the battery is dead… need to change the battery.  Sweetie, can you switch places?  OK now we need to wait for the bus to move.  OK everyone smile.  Junior, stop making that face.

    One… two… three… 

    oh wait we need to go, time to catch the train!

    Did everyone enjoy seeing the city?

    -No, mom, we were too busy posing for your stupid pictures.