5 tips for taking pictures in public

5 tips for taking pictures in public via Click it Up a Notch copy
You bought the fancy DSLR, worked hard to master shooting in manual, all so you could capture your life beautifully right? So why does it sit on your desk or in your bag, while real life happens around you outside of your house?  Are you afraid you’ll break your expensive gear (valid fear!! I hear you!) or are you afraid of the stares of a few strangers? Or is it a bit of both? Here’s a few tips to help you overcome your fears and start shooting life outside your home!


1. This camera was crazy $$$ expensive! I can’t take it anywhere because it might be stolen/broken/lost!

Well, yes. But with a bit of caution and common sense- you shouldn’t fear taking your gear out and actually USING it. I’d rather take my chances (small as they are) that nothing will happen to my gear and I’ll have captured some awesome shots of my kids doing our everyday activities. (Or if you don’t have kids- you’ll have shots of market trips/tourist explorations etc.)

Invest in a quality camera bag that will safely tote your camera/lenses. I am usually shooting with my 5dmark3 and a Sigma 35mm. So a good padded camera bag is a must.

Insure your equipment.  If you’re in business- it goes without saying, seriously, you should have your gear insured. If you’re a hobbyist- check your homeowner’s insurance policy to see what’s covered, and add extra coverage for your equipment if you need it!

Use common sense.  Don’t leave your camera unattended. Leave it around your neck, or in your bag, and your bag on you. Period.

Don’t expose your camera to conditions that are unsafe. I don’t have underwater housing for my DSLR- so when I head to the pool with my kids, I take my underwater safe point and shoot.














2. Don’t shoot bad behavior. 

If your kids are misbehaving, put the camera down. Nothing will bring on the stares (of frustration and judgement)- if you are standing there shooting a meltdown or your kid throwing things instead of disciplining. I am not above shooting tantrums, at home. I will shoot mild pouting in public, but if it’s an outburst and there’s any kind of misbehavior that is potentially damaging to a business or public place- you better believe my camera is not out.


In this shot- all the kids had been running around crazy like they had never been out in public before- I didn’t shoot that. We corrected behavior and then once they were calm, I asked them to pose for this shot. There was no way I wanted to condone their craziness by shooting it while everyone watched.

3. Ignore the stares.

For starters, so long as they aren’t staring because your kid is being a heathen- chances are they are just noticing what cute kids you have. Or admiring you for having guts to take pictures in public. But I actually can almost guarantee that they aren’t really paying that much attention to you. Think about it, when you’re in the grocery store with all your kids- how much attention are you giving other kids in the store (the ones that aren’t melting down that is- and then we all know we’re just glad it’s not our kids for once!)














After I shot this picture of my son riding on the bottom of the grocery cart (and had to lay down in the aisle to get it), I had an elderly man staring at me, I flashed him a smile and he very sweetly said; “Sure looks like they’re having fun! Wish I could ride under there!” See, I thought he was going to be a Judgy McJudgerson and he wasn’t!

4. Go early.

I plan most outings where I intend to shoot a few frames as early in the day as I can. The grocery store is way less crowded when it opens at 9, getting lunch at 11 is much less crazy than 12:30.  Less people equals less intimidation/stares too! Your kids are probably in better moods early in the day too! Explore the library- there’s hardly ever a crowd in ours!













5. Shoot a few shots and be done! 

Unless you’re planning to shoot a whole day in the life series, think through the kind of shots you’re looking for before you go. Plan them out a bit and then shoot them first so you can put your camera away and enjoy the outing.  Plus if your kids are anything like mine, the beginning of an outing is always the most mellow part- give them too much time and they usually melt down!

I knew before we even went to the zoo that I wanted a shot of my kids in front of the seal or polar bear tank, it was one of my must take shots. When we visited this part of the zoo, I was able to take the shot I imagined and then put the camera away and enjoy the moment! After all, you also want to remember the experience of life and your kids would love it if you weren’t always behind the camera right?  Get the shot and be done!



I hope these tips help you get out there and shoot your life! Use your fancy camera and your hard-earned skills and document your life!

  • June 18, 2014 at 1:36 PM

    Superb tips.

    I adore that photo of your son on the cart, pure perfection.
    LOVE that you have guts to get on the store floor but people will understand if you have children with you… I find that moms or dads with their children can get away with things like this. But a single person with a camera can look out of place. These are the times I wish I had children I could take places with me. Even my friend’s children are all grown up so I can’t rely on them. Even if I go to our subdivision pool, I am not looked on favorably or to our local park to get experience shooting people… I dare say I am not well received and they want to know why I am taking pictures.
    I don’t have a dog that I can walk at the dog park either….. I am tired of taking pictures of bugs, birds and flowers. I so need people to practice on but where? It’s just hubby and I and he has long stopped being my model…
    What is a childless gal to do in finding people to shoot; without having to pay them?

    • June 18, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      You should contact a local moms group, churches and non-profits in your area. The moms groups might require a background check but the ability to photograph events & get togethers would give you all the kid action you could snap. Local dog rescues, charity events, youth sport leagues or even your local high school sports teams might appreciate the attention & pictures and it’s a great way to meet people if your interested in building a business.


      • June 18, 2014 at 4:15 PM

        Thank you Sherrie for the info and places to contact. I did put my name around at church so I hope they may need me.

        My neighbor said she would like for me to take pictures of her family gathering come Labor Day. I did order a new low light zoom lens that should be here tomorrow so I can practice with it ahead of time.

        As for a business, not sure if that is for me, I like to do this for free and in my spare time as a hobby. IF the Lord so sees fit to take it further, then at that time I may look into it.

        Thank you for your reply.

    • June 18, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      This is such a great article!

      I’m with Tammy in that I don’t have kids (yet – fingers crossed for a little model). I’m still new to photography too and I usually ask friends/family to be my guinea pigs. You can also post on Craigslist that you’re trying to build your portfolio and see if you get any willing volunteers. :)

      Again, thank you for this great post! great information for the (hopefully not too distant) future! <3

      • June 18, 2014 at 4:17 PM

        Thank you for the suggestion for Craiglist, Did not know one could post for that.
        Will have to look in it.

    • June 19, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      When I was in school at the Art Institute they told us to tell people we were doing an assignment for a class if someone approached us wondering why we were out taking pictures… This could work for any age as it’s never to late to learn… you could say you’re learning to use your new camera doing some exercizes from a book etc…

      • June 19, 2014 at 9:20 PM

        HUM.. have not thought of that… That could work.

  • Danielle Peters
    June 18, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    My mouth literally dropped open when i read you were on the grocery store floor! SUCH GUTS! You’re my hero! i do feel very uncomfortable taking shots in public but i’m trying to ignore the stares. Not too sure about my husband though!!

  • June 18, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    Great advice, especially #5. I sometimes have trouble balancing *capturing* life with actually *living* it (particularly with a newborn in the house that I just want to snap pictures of every 5 minutes because she changes so quickly!) but I’ve become pretty good at getting a few photos and then tucking the camera away to live IN and enjoy the moments too!

  • June 18, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    Awesome sauce! I love these tips! I have just recently started trying to do a better job of photographing my kids in public places, and the main thing that has held me back was judging from others. But you know what? Those people will be in my life for a moment and then gone, but the photos I take will be cherished for generations. These photos are amazing, and I LOVE your advice! :)

  • June 18, 2014 at 4:02 PM

    I LOVE this article! I carry my camera with me everywhere. A trip to the store, the park, or even just walking to the mailbox….there is always an opportunity for a photo, but I sometimes have a hard time drawing the line when it comes to putting my camera away to enjoy and be a part of the moments! I am working on it, though! :)

  • June 18, 2014 at 4:16 PM

    What great tips! Your shots are awesome and I love all the variety you have. I want to be like this too – thanks for the inspiration!

  • Terry
    June 19, 2014 at 12:12 AM

    Such great ideas. I used to take lots if photos of my grand kids but my crazy son in law used to laugh at me about taking so many photos. However the laughing stopped when he saw the, I think, great photos of his nine yr old pitching and the the canvas I had done.

  • June 19, 2014 at 11:03 PM

    Great Article!

  • July 5, 2014 at 6:28 PM

    Awesome advice. I take so many pictures in public it’s like second nature and it is rare I get stared out even when I shoot clients in public.

  • Amy
    July 6, 2014 at 7:46 AM

    Great advice! a little bit of parenting and photography all in one :O)

  • July 7, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    I couldn’t find anything in your tutorials but I would like to know what to do with all the photos you have in lightroom. Basically I have over 1,000 photos in lightroom and I am wondering what you do with them. So when your done editing them and you export them what do you do with all the originals. I can’t stand having them just sitting there in lightroom. So was just curious if there is something I am missing. Thanks in advance!

  • January 29, 2015 at 6:29 AM

    Great tips, and really something we can all learn from and not to be worried about taking more images, I wish there were more photographs of me as as child,

  • January 29, 2015 at 10:03 AM

    My dilemma with street photography is this…I love to capture images of interesting people or just the ordinary but when people think you are aiming the camera at them, they freak out. I think people in general are very skeptical and suspicious on the outside and think you may be trying to do harm? Would love your input.
    One mistake I made….Once I was at a “traffic stop” while police were checking licenses. I was several cars away and just wanted to snap the picture for interest. Right when I snapped the photo, the cop was STARING at me and was NOT happy. I thought I was gonna go to jail!! I wanted to crawl to the floor of the car! I thought, “that was so stupid of me!” Even though there is no law against it…
    He came over and reemed me out about it!! He said “Why did you take that picture!” “Your gonna put it on facebook, arent’ you!” It was awful. I told him I just like taking pictures. He finally calmed down but I seriously was worried….

  • January 29, 2015 at 10:44 AM

    These are excellent tips. The picture of your son under the shopping cart is beautiful and brings up so many childhood memories.

    I particularly relate to the point about quickly taking photos and not worrying about stares. I worry most about stares when I’m photographing meals at restaurants (use them to include with restaurant reviews). I’m still working on my bravery in that area, and this post has helped. I will admit that going to restaurants when they first opens or after the lunch rush helps because there are far fewer people.

  • January 29, 2015 at 11:56 AM

    Really great article and suggestions! I love the pic from the zoo as well as the grocery cart. Just wonderful!

    This is such a timely article as I have recently started braving pulling my camera out of the bag while in public to shoot a few quick images. I have found that when trying to be discreet, having my camera in live mode helps because it’s not up to my face. Also, planning ahead of time is spot on. Yesterday I planned to shoot in a bar and I asked one of the managers before pulling the camera out. We know them well, and I assured him that I was looking to shoot bartender hands making a drink. They were very accommodating.

    I haven’t tried shooting our grandson in public very much but this certainly helps for planning purposes. Thanks again for such great tips!

  • February 1, 2015 at 2:46 AM

    I love all of those tips!!! totally amazing! I need to invest in a underwater point and shoot!

    I agree with putting the camera down though once you are done getting the shots. Unless it’s Disneyland…and then too many cute moments can happen there!

  • Heidi
    March 14, 2017 at 4:32 AM

    How did you get the image in the movie theater? I’ve tried multiple times and no luck. Would love to know so I can capture my kids❤ Thanks so much.

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