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Bring Your Camera Everywhere

Cream-coloured giant squirrel or pale giant squirrel (Ratufa affinis) on a tree branch in Borneo, Sepilok, Malaysia.

Cream-coloured giant squirrel or pale giant squirrel (Ratufa affinis) on a tree branch in Borneo, Sepilok, Malaysia.

Always carry your camera. This is some of the best advice I can give anyone, especially those in their first few years of learning photography. Carrying your camera everywhere will not only insure that you always get a great shot when you happen to pass by it, but it will also make you a better photographer.

When I first began in photography I shot only landscapes with no people in them. Then I moved on to wildlife photography. Both of those, I thought, did not require me to carry my camera unless I was going out on a specified shoot. If I was going to a beach at sunrise I would bring my camera, or a national park at sunset. I got some great shots doing this. But I missed a lot, too. And more importantly I missed out on the opportunity to familiarize myself with my camera.

When I began shooting stock photography in addition to my passion projects to earn some real money, I decided the best thing I could do was carry my camera everywhere. Some of the most mundane photos I take turn out to be best-sellers on stock websites. What I didn’t know would happen by bringing my camera out every day is that it would become like another body part. Using it feels as natural as using my arm and wearing it as comfortable as moving my legs. Now I feel weird when I don’t have it, like I’m missing something.

By carrying my camera everywhere I started to take so many more pictures. Most of these I delete in Lightroom when I go through them later. But it doesn’t matter. Each photo was an opportunity to feel the wheels of my camera spinning beneath my forefinger and thumb as I changed the aperture and shutter speed. Each was an experience in finding the AF-Point button without looking and scrolling in the right direction to move it across the frame. Every photo I look at reminds me of an exact moment--a specific time and place in my history--and the emotions of that moment come flooding back.

Another benefit is increased sales and therefore increased income that allows me to continue progressing in this field that I love. Carrying my camera everywhere allows me the opportunity to expand my focus and discover new areas of photography that I may not have explored otherwise. It gives me a taste of the life and struggles of a portrait photographer, a street photographer, a macro photographer, a travel photographer. All of these disciplines then come together to form my style when I return to wildlife photography. All of them improve my photography and my skill as a photographer.

Now, do you have any excuse to not carry your camera with you next time you go out, and every time thereafter? Bring it to the park when you walk your dog, bring it on your walk to the corner store to buy deodorant, bring it to the Roman ruins on your vacation to Italy, and bring it to your dentist appointment. Bring it everywhere and you’ll never say, “Wow, that’s beautiful. I wish I had my camera.” Plus, you’ll become a better photographer.

What’s the weirdest place you’ve ever brought your camera? Let me know in the comments below.