Why I am Putting Away My Camera this Year
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Why I am putting my camera away this year

You are probably wondering what in the world I’m talking about. I have created this website as a way to help you improve your photography and I’m talking about putting away my camera. Have I lost my mind?

I don’t mean I’m putting it away completely. I mean I am going to be more intentional about being present in the moment and not living it through my view finder.

I am guilty of being the mom at the birthday party who experienced the whole thing through the view finder. I wanted to capture every single moment to have for my child to enjoy later. But wasn’t I enjoying the moment. Not really, I was worried about capturing it and not celebrating another wonderful year with my child.

What about big school events like concerts? Have you seen this commercial?

I know it is meant to be funny but honestly, it breaks my heart. We are missing out on watching our children and enjoying them. They don’t get to see the pride on our face as we watch them because our face is covered up by a camera.

In fact, one study says you are less likely to remember the details of the event if you spend your whole time snapping away.

So what am I going to do?

I’m still going to take my camera places and yes, I’m still going to capture their birthday, concerts and so much more. BUT I’m going to limit how much I’m going to photograph.

I’ve heard some photographers say they give themselves 15 minutes to capture the event or day and then put the camera away. Yes, put it away. Set it down and live in the moment. Laugh with your children as they play, sit proudly and tear up as you watch them sing at the concert, or sing Happy Birthday the loudest.

Maybe you want to capture the whole thing but not be stuck to your camera. I love this idea by Melissa Stottmann and did it this Christmas morning. I set my camera on a tripod and set it to go off every 30 seconds. I got to sit and enjoy my children while also getting the whole thing documented. I plan on doing this with birthdays and other events that I want to capture.

When at the Christmas concert I’m going to snap a few pictures to remember it and put the camera away. That is what I did this year. I took about 4 photos to remember the moment and put in our photo books and sat back and teared up as my little one sang so proudly on stage. She got to see the love and joy on my face because it wasn’t covered up by a camera.

Yes, I’m doing a Project 365 so I am taking pictures every.single.day for a year. But that doesn’t mean I’m living behind my camera. I snap a few photos and put the camera away. Sometimes it takes 2 minutes to capture the moment and sometimes 15 minutes, but the point is I’m trying to be more intentional.

I’m not perfect and I know I will still find myself experiencing life through my camera. But this is the year, I’m going to try my best to put my camera away.

I don’t want my kids to remember me as their mom behind the camera but instead their mom who was present and enjoyed their life with them.

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33 Comments
  • January 23, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    Whew… glad I am not the only one. I feel desperate to capture the moment and find I missed it. I purposely don’t take it out during certain games or sporting events. Glad I am not alone.

  • dana j
    January 23, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    Love this. We do need to be present more but I disagree with the study that you’re less likely to remember. Because of my photographs I remember more! I am limiting my snaps this year so that I can enjoy more too!

  • Rachel
    January 23, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    Great idea! Love the inspiration and balanced example you are setting. Long term I know we will not regret decisions like this :). As a bonus now that my skills are a bit better I can capture more with less time/effort/stress. Also thanks to you :).

  • Crystal
    January 23, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    This made me feel so much better. Sometimes I feel like us as photographer come under a little bit of pressure from family and friends to capture every moment. I a mother to a beautiful 14 month old. I often feel like I have failed to capture important moments on camera. I have many many photos of her, and sometimes I feel like I should have more. Family is always in the background with ideas and expectations. However, when I look back I lived it! I lived every one of those moments with my daughter which included all of her firsts and the small moments in between! I am grateful for that. Thank you for making me feel confident in my choices of being present and/or photographing.

  • JoAnne
    January 23, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    I started doing that when I started to scrapbook. Honestly, you only need one picture, or two, to remember the day or the event. That picture will bring back the memory so you can share it. I am much happier with less clutter and more involvement!

  • January 23, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    I love this idea. When I first got my camera, I took pictures of everything I could. But then I found that I had so many photos and not enough time to edit them and my photos weren’t all that good anyway. Even though I still take photos at events and most days, I have found that the slower I took it, the less photos I took and the more time I spent enjoying the moment, the more memories I took away. Sure I sometimes miss really cool things but, to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My memory card is happier, I’m happier and I have some awesome memories.

    Hannah
    http://www.thelemonhive.com

  • Joni
    January 23, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    Great post! I totally understand. I’m the only one that takes photos in my family. So guess who is never in any photos….me. So this year I’m teaching my husband how to use my camera…..automatic mode only. ;)

    • Crystal
      January 23, 2014 at 11:54 AM

      We just went on a family vacation and I made it a point to ask for photos to be taken of me too. I didn’t care how “good” or “bad” they were. I just wanted the moment to be captured with me in it for once. Good idea to teach your husband! I think I may do the same!

  • January 23, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    I’ve been doing a 365 for 3 years now and I do the same. Once the POD is taken camera goes down. I’ve also been trading with other photographers for birthday party coverage as other things I want documented and want to enjoy. It’s a win win for both of us with kids.

  • Jodi
    January 23, 2014 at 11:52 AM

    Glad I’m not the only one! I seem to have lost my passion for photography since I had my second child in November. I still take photos but not as often as I used to take photos. I want to be in the moment.

  • jen saunders
    January 23, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    I am 39 years old and have been photographing since I was 15 years old. I am a retired master black and White printer (yes printer as in film and darkroom). I am so happy to hear of your choice.I learned this lesson on my sons first birthday he is now seven. I was looking over all the pictures of everyone holding my son and all the love that was captured in those pictures. What was missing was his mother holding him there were no pictures of me and him ( well maybe a couple) what I missed was holding him on his first birthday. I was so busy taking pictures I made a promise to myself as I cried myself to sleep that night that I would never experience another moment of my child’s life another moment of my life from behind a camera again. Congratulations you will be so happy with your choice.

  • Julie Anne Moore
    January 23, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    I love this blog post. The title grabbed my attention and the topic is common for all of us everyday photographers.

    Intentional shooting is not just less time with your camera, but also less time uploading, culling, and editing pictures that you have no actual use for because you only needed 1 to 4 photos for you album, wall, etc.

  • January 23, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    Thanks for sharing this Courtney! My husband jut talked to me about how I miss time because I’m snapping pictures. So, I’m going to start putting the camera down too. =) Not worth missing out on ‘real’ time.

  • January 23, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    I love this post. For me it has been all or nothing – spend the whole time behind the camera or take no photos at all. I’m now trying to be more intentional and present and take a few photos but mostly enjoy the moments. Interestingly, I also think this is going to help me with my photography since it forces me to slow down and think about the best shot, best composition, right moment to take to make the photos I do take count, rather than just snapping away hoping that a few will turn out if I take enough.

  • January 23, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    I totally understand this! I hardly take ANY pics at my kids’ birthday parties because I’m too busy and do this very thing – wanting to be in the moment. I take pics of the party details before anyone arrives and then just give my camera to someone to capture the birthday song/cake and that’s all that matters. This is a great goal for you to have!

  • January 23, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    This was one of my photography resolutions. So often we are so worried about capturing the moment and we forget to live the moment. Thanks for your honesty and all the helpful tips you provide for intermediate photogs like me. :)

  • Michelle K
    January 23, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    Almost exactly one year ago I made this very same decision and I have not regretted it one bit! Enjoy!!

  • January 23, 2014 at 12:45 PM

    This is excellent advice and something I finally figured out last year. I made goals for myself for 2014 and some of them focus specifically on photography. One of the main reasons I set those goals was to be more intentional with my photography. I don’t want to miss out on being a part of and making memories WITH my family (rather than just viewing them from behind the lends) and even though we are only a few weeks into the year, my goals have already helped me so much with balancing my desire to CAPTURE memories with my desire to be a PART OF those memories.

  • mary
    January 23, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    I like taking two or three pics tops because honestly no one has time to sit and review dozens of photos for every event. I do keep the camera nearby just in case though. I think about all my old family photos on film my parents and grandparents took. Just enough photos to have documented life’s moments but not too much to be overwhelming so as to never get another look. Less really is more. I was guilty of trigger happiness myself when I realized I would never look at all those tons of photos I took. I blamed digital technology for that free for all attitude I had. I took a film photography class and it changed my outlook on photography’s role in preserving memories and moments. Back when Daguerre and Talbot were working on Tintypes and Daguerreotypes, images were extremely rare and precious. They were hand crafted with care. It may be an extreme but it did a lot in reshaping my approach to photographing the people and moments I care about. I strive to make my photography less of a ubiquitous commodity, and have been a lot more selective on when and how often I hit the shutter, both with film and digital mediums.

  • Kira
    January 23, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    Such a good reminder. Thanks for your post.

  • Kristina H
    January 23, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    That was a decision I made also because I realized the stress & time that was taking away from my kiddos! I couldn’t be my full self and people were depending on me taking pictures while they had fun with their kids :( Also I put a lot of my pictures on facebook and then realized that I waited for people’s replies & soon felt like I was showing a fake life on facebook. I was sharing all the easy stressless moments, but in reality my life isn’t actually like that. I felt like I was bragging… but I would rather people not know and feel like my life is normal and not always full of smiles and giggles. So I take a lot less pictures!

  • January 23, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    Why not trade “services,” free of course with a friend. You photograph their party and they do yours. It does not have to be picture perfect, it’s about the event not the color and composition of the photos. Then you can have the photos you want and also help another friend out too.

  • January 23, 2014 at 4:41 PM

    Years ago I decided I needed to stop taking photos at other peoples functions. (Who needs 30 pics of someone else’s kids party) Over the last couple years I have just taken a couple photos to commemorate the day then I’m done. I don’t really take photos out with friends anymore either. I was missing too much. It was feeling too much like a job instead of enjoying myself and my kids. I actually felt guilty at first. Now it’s great. Relatives still ask if I’ll take pictures during family functions and I just say, sorry Its my day off. Haha

  • January 23, 2014 at 8:38 PM

    Great post and wonderful reminder! I did this exact thing on my oldest child’s first day of Kindergarten this past fall and blogged about it (http://www.sallysoslerphotography.com/blog/2013/9/back-to-school-orange-county-new-york-family-photographer). It was the best decision that I could have made that day! Thank you for the reminder!

  • January 23, 2014 at 9:07 PM

    This post intrigued me very much. I am a newlywed and my husband and I don’t have any kids. We both love pictures and I’m a detailed scrapper, so we take pictures of pretty much EVERYTHING. Earlier this year I got socked with guilt-gut when one of my friends said to me that she put her camera away to enjoy the moment. I felt like the most horrible person on the earth for choosing to enjoy the moment THROUGH taking pictures of it. I wrestled with that and finally had to come to grips with the understanding that it was as okay for me TO take pictures as it had become for her to NOT take pictures. We’re still going strong with the photos and I am so glad that my husband likes for us to have so many and helps take them so I can be in them too. Even though I am choosing to pick up my camera and be confident in that choice even when I feel it’s not okay with others, I appreciate what you said here!

  • Nicole S.
    January 24, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    This made me tear up…I too am that Mom. My mother actually said to me recently, “Do you even recognize people if you’re not looking at them through your view finder?” I shrugged it off as her being critical, but I have realized myself that I get so aggravated if I don’t “get that shot”, if I feel like I missed something so important because it wasn’t captured on film. I’m trying to make more of an effort to enjoy myself, and not stress about the pictures. I know that what I do get will bring back the flood of memories I actually experienced :) Thanks for writing this post, I think it’s something a lot of us “mom-tographers” need to read!

  • Beth
    January 25, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    true,enjoy your children but in later years they will want to see pictures.Remember you never know how long you will have your family and friends in your life. I was always the one to take pictures and they would say ” Mom no more pictures” then later they wondered why they were not in the pictures.
    My granddaughter(4 1/2) loves to look at pictures of herself and her great grandmother who has passed.

  • January 27, 2014 at 9:44 AM

    I read your blog a few times but i must say that i love you even more after this post.
    good luck!!!!!

  • Silvina
    January 30, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    I’ve been doing this for a while and enjoy everything much more. Take a couple of photos and then keep my camera on my bag :)

    Good choice!

  • February 6, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    I think this is a great idea…I’m guilty of spending a whole soccer season behind a camera and missing the “bigger picture” because I’m focused on the ball or a player while something else is going on entirely. I have been forcing myself to leave it at home, intentionally, otherwise I pull it out worried I’m going to miss something. The only thing I’m missing so far is the guilt of 100’s of pictures that need to be edited and shared. It’s good. Hard, but good.

  • Bryan
    February 12, 2014 at 3:50 PM

    An absolutely wise decision.
    I choke up every time I think about my son’s last day of high school. He’s autistic but a real fighter and overcame his disability to become an ideal student. On senior awards day, he was given the “Hornet” award for the most exemplary student………and I missed it trying to frame the shot. I can never have that moment back.
    I agree with what another poster said. Take a shot or two but not at “the” moment. Take one to have and another for luck in case the first didn’t turn out. Then put the camera away and wait for the big moments. And the small moments. And be part of them.

  • Cathie
    September 7, 2014 at 9:17 PM

    This is so me and I’ve been trying to limit my photos because I have really felt that sad feeling after of missing their face or wave because I’ve been trying to hold the video straight or get the whole group etc. One moment in particular breaks my heart so this post is just perfect. Definitely do this.

  • Wendy Early
    September 8, 2014 at 7:10 PM

    Love this! I also am trying hard not to be behind the camera during an entire event. Taking a “shot or two” is perfect! And I see I’m not the only one!!! :-)

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