Put down that camera!

_MG_9956, black bear, Banff National Park

A beautiful black bear in Banff National Park, Canada.

I play head games with myself all the time though I rarely seem to win. Here’s a couple of examples:

  • Just wait a little more and some wildlife will magically appear…
  • I’m sure the receptionist will call you soon and put an end to this insufferable waiting…

It is entirely possible that I have also hoodwinked myself on today’s topic, but I’ll let you be the judge.

I keep hearing that photographers should regularly put down their cameras and just enjoy the moment, drink up the atmosphere in a beautiful scene. People complain about photographers who view an entire holiday through a lens.

_MG_7649 (4)

One of many rock outcrops in Yellowstone National Park, US.

The assumption is that photography can be a tiny distraction. Now it’s theoretically possible that the following activities might add to that impression:

  • Hauling around a boat load of equipment
  • Fussing with camera controls
  • Looking for different angles to take the photo
  • Muttering at trees that jumped in front of wildlife
  • Rearranging meal times to take advantage of good light
  • Constantly checking the sun’s direction and shady spots
  • Uttering guttural noises at a histogram that dared to tell an unflattering truth

Now on the face of it, that might appear to be a bit of a case … OK a strong case. However, there is a simple counter point that I believe trumps them all. I like taking photos. Please stay with me.

When I see a beautiful landscape or watch wildlife, my desire to photograph the scene intensifies my interest. My senses are on full alert and I soak in as much information and feeling as I can possibly take in. I look at different angles, observe more detail and visualize more possibilities.

Earlier this year, I described the thrill of watching a fox hunt for an hour. My eye was pressed against the camera nearly all the time and I may have watched every jump through the lens. My adrenaline surged every time I anticipated a jump as I readied my finger on the shutter. Did photography take anything away from that experience for me? Hardly!

For the poor souls who are forced to watch photographers do all these things (I am thinking of my long suffering wife here) on a “family holiday” … well that’s another story. I can see where that would be more than a little distracting, definitely annoying and thoroughly boring. If I wasn’t a photographer, I might be first in line to just keep driving right on by. Where does my wife get all that patience?

But for me, I think photography makes the experience better and it gives me something to complain about when the photos don’t turn out. Oh yes and then there is that whole blogging thing.

So … am I just fooling myself?


Evening light in Grand Teton National Park, US>.

Latest Comments

  1. melodylowes says:

    I find that having been on the lookout for a great shot makes me a better viewer whether I have a camera in my hands or not! I see colours, shadows, reflections, angles all the time where I never used to. I see details and things I want to record to capture the essence of an experience – all great things. So Snap away – I’m quite sure the naysayers just haven’t seen what you’ve seen… 🙂


  2. Suzy Blue says:

    I am another who is fortunate enough to have a partner who shares my habit for photographing everything! I lean towards the macro end of things and it really does make you look a lot closer at everything – I see so much more since I got into photography!


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I’m happy for you to have a partner who shares the photography bug. Though the way things work out, there are probably other areas where it doesn’t work out since opposites have a way of attracting. Delving into the macro world, there is definitely so much more to see!


  3. photographybycalliec says:

    Oh wow the big grizzly,fantastic


  4. sagescenery says:

    Oh, that last evening shot makes all that you do worth it!! Great post!

    I just went to a concert last night…and photographed everything…I enjoyed it immensely!! I don’t like to be without my camera on a walk, at the beach, at a restaurant, on a trip… anywhere! Savor the scenery…look at it when you get home…share it with people..Ahhh, I love it!


  5. doriswamyganesh says:

    Dear Lyle, The depth of love and affection with which you have taken and described the photographs are truly reflected in the pictures themselves as even a lay man like me could feel as if I am present at the actual spot of reality sitting virtually across the globe in a hot and dusty atmosphere.My soul when it escapes to freedom will in all probability search out the many places of your pictures and wander around in peace and tranquility. Thank you for the immense pleasure. Regards, Ganesh.


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I appreciate your kind comments. One goal of every photo is give people a sense of what it was like, to share the experience. I am pleased when my photos can do that even in a small way. Thanks for the feedback.


  6. Mike Powell says:

    Why do you take photographs? If you respond that you seek to capture beauty and the depth and intensity of an experience, then it is likely that the admonition about putting down the camera doesn’t apply to you. You are already experiencing the experience as you consider the shot and frame it and wait for appropriate conditions. You are taking your time and, as you so eloquently described, engaging all your senses. Consider the alternative. What if you had snapped off a quick shot of the fox and then had turned your back to the scene so that you could send a copy of it via Instagram to a friend and then hurried on to capture another subject? If you view your camera as merely an instrument to document that “I was there” (and I see this a lot when I am at touristy places), then maybe the camera is an impediment to experiencing the beauty of a situation. Do you obsess over the technical aspects of getting a perfect shot to the detriment of experiencing a situation? I suspect that is true for some photographers. Do you experience an emotional response when you photograph a beautiful sunset like the one in your final photo or is it merely a challenge in lighting and exposure? The problem with broad sweeping statements is that they often don’t apply in individual cases. You have made a convincing case that you don’t need to put down your camera after your thoughtfully considered the question. For me, it’s useful to consider basic questions like this periodically to better understand my motivations and feelings, even if I think I know the answer in advance.


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Some fantastic ideas there for a post of your own! interestingly I do have a camera to document life and it is attached to my phone. It’s an entirely different process as you suggest. My real camera is for much loftier purposes. There are times when I do obsess too much over technical aspects but thankfully they are the exception. That brings me back to your point about asking questions to understand motivations and feelings which really is an excellent point. It reminds me of that old familiar quote about an unexamined life!


  7. vanbraman says:

    I really like the bear, but since I really like a good sunset it was the better picture for me.
    I haven’t seen any live black bears here in Canada this week, but did get some pictures of black squirrels 🙂


  8. dda53 says:

    Beautiful Teton landscape.


  9. Kathy Bieber Stobbe says:

    Dori must have a lot more patience than Dan! enough said.


  10. Foghorn The IKonoclast says:

    i am very impressed with this set of pics w/ my favorite being the mountain snow.


  11. Steve Gingold says:

    Early on in our courtship and then marriage, my wife would accompany me on my photography hikes when we vacationed. For all the reasons you mention above that got very old for her very quickly.
    I have never felt a lessening of the experience regarding photography getting in the way. I find it heightens things for me. There is the anticipation and the thrill of getting in on the sensor and reliving it later in processing. Little things that might be missed by only watching are picked up upon and enjoyed that might have been missed otherwise.
    I love the last shot from the Tetons.


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      There aren’t a lot of couples that are on the same wave length when it comes to photography but then we don’t tend to marry people like ourselves anyway. As you so well described, photography really lengthens the enjoyment of the experience. I enjoyed reading your perspective.


  12. Victor Rakmil says:

    Great photos and a great story line, as usual.


  13. Scott Marshall says:

    The last shot is heaven – interestingly I knew you had taken the bear shot before I saw the name (in the reader) of the photographer which says everything Lyle


  14. adinparadise says:

    Wonderful images. That bear is humongous. 🙂


  15. Deb W. Trotter says:

    Perception is reality, right, so if you feel your experiences are enhanced by your camera, then they are. No fooling needed. Your last photo made me gasp! Thanks for the spectacular image of one of my favorite sights.


  16. matthias1982 says:

    hehe – I feel very much like you!! good post!


  17. The Earth Beneath My Feet says:

    The last pic is absolutely magical!


  18. Phil Lanoue says:

    I can (sadly, or maybe not) relate to all of that.
    And hey, these are stunners right here! Magnificent bear and wow that late evening light is outstanding!


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Ah, a fellow traveller on the journey! It is sometimes hard to distinguish what’s sad and what not. Thanks for your appreciative comments. That sunset just came out of nowhere and then it was gone – typical of the mountains.


  19. Deb Scally says:

    Shoot and enjoy, I say! 🙂


  20. Gunta says:

    Very nice landscape shots. The Teton one is breathtaking. Who said you could shoot only critters?


  21. Jane Walker says:

    I love all 3 photos, especially the last one.
    I believe that seeing almost every flower, things with wings and scenery as potential photographs has actually opened my eyes wider to the world around me.


    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. It’s interesting to hear someone else say they see so much more when looking for potential photographs. There is a lot to see out there. Enjoy!


  22. Pam says:

    I agree! I would feel lost without the camera. Happily my husband and I both have cameras and are busily taking pictures!


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