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The Story Behind That Picture: "Always Wear a Camera"

Accidental photographs

By: Thorsten Overgaard. October 7, 2010.

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There is a whole subject known as "street photography" by which is usually understood photographing people in the streets. However, in my understanding "street photography" tend to be everything I photograph that I'm not commissioned for: Things that happen in front of my camera when I'm living life. Because I always wear a camera.

The point perhaps is: Wear a camera at all times, and have it ready. Which imply that it shouldn't be lying at home or in a parked car, it should be over your shoulder. And it should be ready, not turned off in a photo bag or with a lens cap on the lens.

Being a photographer simply means "one who make pictures using a camera" and if they're good pictures you can make a living of it. Being a photographer isn't a piece of paper saying you took an education.

Statistically speaking, there's a greater chance of being a photographer holding a camera than holding a degree.

Being very practical about it, you should wear a camera that is set to auto power-off in 1 or 5 minutes so you never have to turn it off. So when you press the shutter slightly, the camera will wake up and be ready in few seconds. If you do that, you will soon discover that you "see pictures" whereever you walk, and the next big step is to take them. The reason that is a big step is that it requires that you point the camera at strangers and take the photo. Or that you (feel that you) attract attention from bypassers when holding the camera to your eye at a train station, in a hotel lobby or in the street. Hence a small soundless camera can be an advantage over the big dSLR, not only for that reason, but also as you will be carrying it at all times.

If you build a relaxed style of moving around and holding the camera for a while, you will notice something strange: That people notice you and the camera, then they forget you again. It's like if you sit on a motorbike in the street. As long as you just sit there peacefully, people will notice you and forget you, and you are free to observe. But the moment you start the engine and drive around, people will keep and eye on you and stay out of the way. So in that spirit, that is how you use a camera in the street.

 

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Wearing a camera and using it, you will stumble over many interesting things, and you will also become known as the photographer amongst friends and coworkers. And so you will have a willing crowd to photograph, and it will all feel very natural. And as long as you treat others as you would like to be treated your self, and act respectfully, they will be happy that you capture their daily life.

That was all I had to say today. I hope it was useful and that you liked the examples. As always, feel free to e-mail me at thorsten@overgaard.dk for suggestions and qestions.

You can wear a camera as fashionable as Tue does in this picture. A small Leica M9 with a Leica 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5 lens.
You can wear a camera as fashionable as Tue Juelsbo does in this picture. A small Leica M9 with a Leica 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5 lens.

 

Two more from the same "photo session" as above:


The hustler picture

 


Hands up!

 

Related stories: "Do You Wear a Camera?" by Darren Rowse (Digital Photography School).


 

   
     
     
   
   
   

 

 
 

 

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Friends as models: Austrian GT2 race car driver Niki Lanik and Swiss photo student Sofia acts as models just for the fun of it. Long story short, we were swimming in Geneva and thought "let's do some photos" and this was one of them. Leica M9 with Leica 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 II. © 2010-2016 Thorsten Overgaard.

 

 

Yours truly captured in the middle of nowhere with a small Leica M9. Photo by Birgit Krippner.  Thorsten Overgaard
Yours truly captured in the middle of nowhere with a small Leica M9. Photo by Birgit Krippner.



 


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Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.

 

 

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