The 3 Key Habits of Opportunistic Photography
It's been awhile since my last post and a lot has happened since my last missive. I've changed jobs, traveled a bunch, done some fun family things, and I've been recording music again, which I hadn't done in over a year. So at least I can legitimately claim that I've been busy.
Let's get to it.
When you're an amateur photographer and you have a busy life that doesn't involve cameras, often the only photos you can squeeze in are opportunistic shots you stumble upon when doing other things. For us, to paraphrase John Lennon, photography is what happens when you're busy doing other things.
I usually post these shots to Facebook and sometimes I get responses from my friends with variations on, "Nice photo, I wish I had the photo opps that you get!"
But the truth is, photo opportunities like these all come from my decidedly ordinary life. I do travel a fair amount for work, but more often than not, I don't see much more in these travels than what is conveniently located near my hotel and airport! So it's not so much that I'm going to interesting and beautiful places. But I am trying to recognize interesting scenes consciously and get pictures of them.
There are really 3 habits you have to develop to maximize these opportunities.
The first is you need to develop the habit of carrying some kind of camera at all times. Usually I carry my Fuji X-20, but for all the photos in this post I just had my phone. All of them suffer from sub-optimal image quality and I wish I'd had the Fuji. But a phone is better than nothing, because without a camera there is no opportunity.
The second habit: Every time you find yourself admiring the look of something, you've got to remember to photograph it. A nice sunset, a cool building, an ugly bug, a pretty pattern in the landscape, an interesting looking person, nice lighting on a scene – whatever it is, whenever something catches your eye, you need to remember to photograph it. It's so easy for the moment to not even register consciously, but you have to break that or the opportunities that do come your way will be totally wasted! And so you have to develop a new habit. Be present in the moment and consciously recognize when something catches your eye. Also, when you see other people admiring something, take a moment to figure out what it is and photograph that too.
Just getting those two habits down will increase the number of engaging photos you take enormously.
Okay, now you're in the habit of packin' glass and you're quick on the draw when you see something interesting. You can take it up a level with the 3rd habit: Constantly look for interesting things. Wherever you go, whatever you do, create a habit of continuously evaluating your environment for opportunities. (Actually, there is an important exception: You shouldn't do this when it's not safe. Like, say, when you're driving – that would be a very bad idea! Don't be a variation on one of those people you read about who fall to their death while trying to get a selfie. Safety first!) If you develop a habit of actively scanning your environment for interesting looking scenes, you'll increase you hit rate many times over.