Leave your camera at home?! What?! Am I breaking the photographer cardinal rule?
You're a photographer. You're used to people asking to take pictures for them. Word gets out, and everyone, especially family members, know you're good at what you do, and they request your services. I love photographing my family more than anything. Building a relationship with your subject is crucial, so it's great having that relationship before you even start the photo-taking process.
I won't lie, I treat my family well when it comes to taking their pictures. I won't make them pay me to take pictures of my little cousins or their dogs. I love doing them a favor while simultaneously saving them a buck or two.
But one time I will decline taking pictures is a family event.
Weddings, picnics, parties, reunions, whatever it is, I will leave my camera at home. I won't think twice about it. I do this because I, a photographer, need to live just as many moments as I capture. Yes, it's my job to capture moments for people. Give them a timeless image of a memory they wish to cherish forever. But if I live my entire life looking through a lens and shooting the moments, I won't have any to experience.
What is the point of capturing these moments? To give the subject(s) the nostalgic feeling that they felt while the picture was taken. When a person looks at a photo, they should be reminded of the joy, happiness, sadness, or any other emotion that they then felt.
If I went to every family party and focused on taking pictures rather than laughing with my loved ones, playing some football in the back yard, and catching up with people I haven't seen in months, I won't have any feelings to remember. No matter how many pictures I end up with, they will not remind me of the amazing feelings and memories of that time because I was on the wrong end of the lens.
This is just my personal opinion, but I think there are a lot of things to balance in your life other than what you love to do. When I look back on my annual "Rib Cook-Off" for example, I would rather have one or two selfies while I was laughing my ass off than have 50 amazing photos of everyone else laughing their ass off. Memories may not last like photos can, but they can be more powerful.
So put down the camera these holidays and take in the magical joy that these couple months bring. There's no other part of the year like this, so take advantage of it. Spend time with your loved ones. Pour an extra glass of the spiked eggnog. Feel the joy of giving and seeing the smiles on people's faces.
Moments to photograph happen every second, and missing a few of them is worth experiencing countless memories with your loved ones.
There probably won't be another post from me until next year, so, with that, happy holidays, and happy shooting.
PRO TIP REMINDER:
iPhone cameras (and various other smartphone cameras) are becoming so advanced these days. Bring your phone to the party, keep it in your pocket, and if you see a must-capture moment, whip out that phone. The quality of those photos will be just fine. This way, you can experience the party AND capture some moments at the same time. Don't stay glued to the phone, but don't hesitate to take that perfect picture.