Capture a moment

One of hundreds of photos being taken all around the Tidal Basin. April 2013

One of hundreds of photos being taken all around the Tidal Basin. April 2013

“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”Karl Lagerfeld

A couple of weeks ago I went into D.C. for the afternoon to see the cherry blossom trees at their peak.  Not only was it indescribably beautiful, but I had perhaps the greatest opportunity ever to unobtrusively take photos of other people taking photos, which is one of my favorite subjects to catch on camera.

During my years as a photographer for my college newspaper, I learned that cameras add significantly to an already festive atmosphere.  When people are happy and friendly, add a camera and you have an instant party.  That’s how it felt that afternoon around the Tidal Basin.  It was like being at a big party where no one knew everyone else, but none were strangers.

Although camera phones are everywhere now, it’s still easier to get good photos (particularly from a distance) with one of the many lightweight, full-featured digital cameras available for very reasonable prices.  Try taking one along to your next happy gathering, and see how much fun you have capturing precious moments that will happen only once in a lifetime.

This post was originally published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Good morning, Julia! A few years ago, when I was actively engaged in an on-line photography course, I got up and took early morning photos at the Minneapolis Farmers market – with my zoom lens (not sure if it counts quite as telephoto). I am not usually am about people watcher, but that morning was so fun, capturing candid shots of folks. Of course, I struggle with worrying about of circumstances, for example, what if someone was relocated under a witness protection program, or escaping an abusive parent or spouse … so I can’t just post them all publicly. And then I prayed for the subject of the photo I sent in, as my assignment. I photoshopped the color of her garment and desaturated a bit, but I’m sure anyone that knew her well would recognize her.
    It’s a pity to have to be so concerned, because the candid shots I got there, and at a July Fourth celebration are some of the best people pictures I have.
    I like hiding behind a camera! 😁

    • WOW, I thought I over-think everything, but I never, ever worried about any of that. I know not to publish anything close up for a paid assignment unless I get a photo release, but otherwise, anyone out in public can be photographed without too much heartburn. Those who are in hiding — and they are pretty rare as a percentage of the total population — generally know how to avoid being photographed. So I think you can relax. This article might give you some reassurance as well as some indications of what we DO need to be wary of doing, when out snapping photos:

      • The one group I NEVER photograph close up without permission, is children.

      • Thanks for that link, Julia! Great info. Mostly common sense, but it’s nice to read the details and examples.
        When I was visiting friends in Novosibirsk, we attended Aida at a lovely Opera House. I know not to take photos during a performance, but I was taking a few shots of the gorgeous venue prior to the show. A security guard came and demanded my camera! I was dismayed, as I don’t know nearly enough Russian to present an argument for keeping my camera, or even for asking for it back, after the show. I was saved by Vala, my friend’s friend, who surrendered her camera instead, with some very stern words to the guard. She did successfully retrieve her camera after the performance. Whew.

        • Do you ever get the feeling that some of these people in positions of authority relish the ability to intimidate and bully people? I tend to have mostly a lot of respect and appreciation for security and law enforcement people, and other such staff who have the right (and responsibility) to keep the rest of us in line. But when I worked as a gate agent for a major airline, it used to bother me how some agents seemed to get a big kick out of denying someone a seat assignment they wanted, or even saying who got that last seat on the plane. Unfortunately, the old saying about power having a corrupting influence was right. Kudos to your friend for talking back to the guard! Maybe he was just following the very stern directions of someone else. But in any case, I’m glad she got her camera back.

          • Yes, that tendency appears in a lot of different forms. I remember when I was actively volunteering for Parenting with Purpose, an organization that helps families in which a parent is or has been incarcerated, I was amazed by the number of kids that wanted to grow up to be a police officer, even though their own parent was in prison. I thought, wow, they must have had some good experience with kind, helpful police, but on the other hand, maybe they were craving power in their helpless condition?
            In other situations, I’ve noticed that it sure doesn’t seem to me that the happiest people that are the bossiest.

            • Susan, that’s true. You would think power would correlate with happiness, but it almost never does. Perhaps the reason lies in the inherent dissatisfaction with self and others that leads some people to want control– always wanting more of something, and often, not even knowing what that “something” is.

              • I’d be willing to bet you’re right, that most power-hungry people probably haven’t realized what it is that they really want.
                And typically our response to such people would be less than enlightening for them.

                • I can’t think of anything reasonable that would get through to a power-mad type who had really dug in.

  2. Carol Hoyos

    That sound like something I’d like to try. I’ve never been much of a photographer because I’m always so caught up in the moment and I forget to step away and observe What digital camera do you use and would you recommend it please?. I’ve always enjoyed/envied your treasure of photographs. Thnx in advance. c

    • Carol, I’ve used several different types of cameras over the years. I learned photography on the old SLR film cameras, beginning with my Daddy’s Minolta SRT-101. For my own first SLR camera, I chose the Canon AT-1, and later versions of their SLRs such as the Rebel. Jeff got me a digital SLR and I have some lenses for it, but for convenience, I tend to prefer the quick and compact small cameras that have evolved to have very impressive qualities. Consistently, I’ve stuck with Canon from the very beginning for whatever camera I use. Jeff used to have a Nikon that he used for his intraoral photography, and I used to play with it some, but never liked it as well as I did my trusty Canons. At least 95% of the photos I’ve taken in the past 5 or 6 years — which means most of the ones on this blog — were taken with the lightweight and totally reliable Canon SX280HS, with a super useful 20x optical zoom. No, I’m not being paid to say any of this! 😀 😀 😀 I don’t know if they make a version of the SX280HS anymore but I hope they do, in case mine goes out on me.

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