On always having a camera with you – and when to put it in your bag

Dresden, Germany, 2014

The scene above was captured while my in-laws and my partner were standing in line to get a museum ticket. Of course I had my camera with me. You never know when a photograph finds you, and my peers are actually used that I disappear unexpectedly for some minutes to capture scenes that inspire me. Of course you sometimes have to put your camera in its bag again. I think you should always wait for the last possible second to do so, and here’s why. I currently work for a client who is located in a part of town that’s very fascinating to me. I normally get up earlier to work on capturing the mood of this place. Then I grab a breakfast sandwich & a coffee at a nearby deli & go to work. The other day I feel a scene emerging. A postman parking his yellow bike on the sidewalk, going into an office building. Next to the bike: a blue four wheeled motorbike. OK, I’ll check this scene & wait for the postman to come out, then capturing the contrast between the yellow/blue, bicycle/motorbike and perhaps also work/fun. I stood there, checking the light and distances to optimize depth of field since I had time waiting for the guy to come out. Then somebody approaches me “Hey wait, I’ve only been parking for a minute and on the move leaving” the owner of the blue motorbike says. He sees my confused look, then checks me again, “Oh, I thought you were giving me a parking ticket.”. That puts a big smile on my face “I see, no I want to take a picture of this scene.”. Now he looks confused, getting on his motorbike. When I lift the camera to take his picture he says “No pictures of me please. You can take pictures of my quad bike if you want to but not of me”. I have to win some time until my main subject delivered the mail and comes out again, so I agree and pretend taking pictures of his motorbike. “That’s a nice machine.” “Yes. I can drive it on two wheels” “Wow that’s amazing. I’d love to take pictures of this.” “Hm… no, I think I don’t want to be photographed driving my bike, either.” We chat a little, turns out he’s a delivery guy too and he has to leave. OK I lost the motorbike in the scene, time to move on. Actually I’ll soon be running late for the first appointment of that day. I move on, putting my camera in my bag when I reach my client’s site. Then I hear a motorbike accelerating. This can’t be… can it? I turn around and see the blue motorbike cutting the corner on two wheels. I open my bag, get out the rangefinder, point and… realize I’m too late. I still smile since it’s been a great way to start the day, accompanied by a great learning: never put your camera in your bag too early. Always wait for the last second to do so.

Me in the elevator en route starting my workday – capturing the very last moment to put the camera away.

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