As a lifestyle photographer, I crave real moments.
I crave the moments of my child or spouse doing something that just captivates my soul. The times when my inner me screams, “I WISH I HAD MY CAMERA!”
I’ve been there. SO. MANY. TIMES.
Why I take pictures in public places.
I knew I needed to embrace the “lifestyle” portion of my work and really dive deep into that. That’s when it hit me, the moments I wanted to capture were in my day-to-day life, during my errands like in the middle of grocery shopping.
From that moment on, I started bringing my camera with me wherever I went, and let me tell you, it completely changed my perspective.
Many times I hear from others how they get nervous to bust out their camera in a public space. They’re fearful of something like the manager telling them not to or another person looking at them funny.
I won’t lie, I felt that fear a time or two.
Then I came to my senses and realized that my memories were more important than a bystander’s judgement and if a manager told me no, then I’d just put my camera away. There is literally no harm in taking photos of your children or loved ones in public spaces, and it should be encouraged.
We are living in the days of really good cell phone cameras which is great. Honestly, how often do you use that as a crutch to not bring your bigger and better quality camera? I know I have, many times.
Although my camera’s phone works great, it’s still not my camera. It’s still not the professional quality that my family’s memories deserve. So now I’ve simply made it a habit to bring my camera when I go places. Even if I take just a couple photos, each one pushes me that much further out of my comfort zone.
My experience taking pictures in a public place.
A big hurdle for shooting in an everyday place is exactly HOW to do it. As an example, I’ll be using a recent Trader Joe’s trip where I photographed my son using their shopping cart for the first time.
Once, when I was checking out at our local TJs, I thought about taking photos of my son there. I then asked the cashier when the least busiest time was. He informed me that weekdays right when they open for about two hours is relatively quiet and a great time to come.
I mentioned to him that I was thinking of taking some photos and he just nodded, thinking it sounded cool. I guess I wasn’t really expecting more from a young checker.
The next week I arrived at Trader Joe’s with my son, camera and a plan. The first thing I did when I got there was immediately adjust my settings for the indoor light. I wanted to make sure my settings were set and shutter speed fast to be able to capture every moment with accuracy.
Then it was time to see what my son would do when presented with a mini shopping cart. Um, he LOVED it! Although, he did go rogue on me quite a few times and just ditched the cart.
As my son was enjoying his surroundings and “shopping”, I focused on moving just as I would if I was just any other customer. Honestly, that part is the key – keep your movements and actions normal as if you aren’t even shooting. This not only keeps you relatively discreet and not a distraction to other patrons but it forces you to capture the real moments as you would normally see them.
As I was photographing him, he was having a blast. Hardly anyone cared what we were doing at all. I mean, it’s pretty obvious I was holding a DSLR camera but never once did we become a distraction.
In fact, at one point, a random customer approached me and asked if I was Archer Inspired. I responded yes. She then informed me that she recognized me from pictures of my son on my business Instagram and because I was holding a camera. So hey, shooting in public spaces may actually be a brilliant marketing idea, too!
All of this to say, I know that taking your camera out for anything other than a paid shoot may be a bit intimidating. I can understand the fear of judgement or acceptance. But let me tell you, it’s worth it. The memories you capture from the raw and authentic moments in your everyday life deserve to be captured beautifully and accurately.
Challenge yourself, push yourself out of your comfort zone and fear and bring your camera with you next time you go grocery shopping.
Take photos of your kids or just the produce. See the everyday mundane tasks in a different light. Bring your creativity to the normal and average places and see the beauty in them. Photograph without fear and without hesitation, I promise you won’t regret it.