One of the themes I heard intermittently growing up and in my life as a new college graduate was of men hiding behind cameras instead of being involved in whatever was going on. I don’t remember how often I heard this theme or from how many people I heard it, but it was more than one person.
So, naturally, I’ve overcompensated.
Most of my best pictures, the ones I use as screen-savers and desktop wallpaper on my computers, were taken when I was by myself. If I’m by myself, I don’t worry about someone else getting bored or impatient while I try to frame a picture or find the position from which there isn’t a branch in the way or someone walking through the scene. I can wait for the roller coaster to emerge from the artificial mountain or for the train to come around the corner. I can find the bird in the tree and try to get the best angle for the best lighting, even if I know half the time it flies away before I succeed.
This is not to say that I have lots of memories of people getting impatient with me while I’m taking pictures. In my best style, I don’t give them the chance. I’ve got some great pictures of various Disney resorts when my wife was sleeping in or when I was in a Disneyworld park while she rested back in the room. Similarly, pictures from other vacations or other sights were from when I was alone. I don’t have pictures from National Zoo when I was there with others; I have pictures from one day my wife was out of town and I went by myself on a weekend. She was disappointed I had gone by myself; she had no idea her stories about her ex fiddling with cameras all the time on family vacations had intimidated from taking pictures while out with her. This isn’t to say I don’t have pictures of her or her extended family from past vacations, but not nearly as many as I have from my times alone, and not as meticulously taken. Those are pictures of people in a place; the pictures i have of the place for the sake of the place tend to come from my own solitary wanderings here or there.
If someone I’m traveling with has their own camera and is taking their own pictures, this tendency is subdued. I’ll wait for them, and they’ll wait for me, or we’ll both take pictures from this overlook or of that scene.
But, yeah, in the back of my mind, I’m not going to be the guy with the camera for whom others wait and who was on the vacation but not actually engaged.