I have a good friend who works as a lawyer in New York City and sends me lots of photos from his cell phone. Dismal as cell phone photos are in quality, he has a great eye for the little oddities that make life interesting--old billboards, funny signs, snippets of daily life and even the occasional incredible sunset. I hate to think of him careening through the streets of the Bronx with one eye on the road and another on the cell phone screen, but it appears that a lot of his pictures are shot from his car window. Safe driving aside, his photos make a great point: we all encounter tons of quirky little photo ops almost every single day and all you need is a good eye and a handy camera to capture them.
That's the secret to a lot of good photography: always have a camera with you because you can never predict when a great photo will reveal itself to you. I shot the photo above in Rhinebeck, New York while driving through a pretty neighborhood, admiring the fine older homes. I spotted the bicycle/flower planter in front of a small inn and just stopped the car in the middle of the block to shoot it; fortunately it was a slow street and no one was behind me. Fortunately too, I had a good camera on the seat next to me and the right zoom lens all waiting to go. Maybe it's pure laziness, but I'm not sure if I hadn't had the camera ready to shoot that I would have bothered stopping to get the camera out to make the shot. The photo has since turned up in at least one of my books, several of my online lessons and it's been popular on Flickr, so I'm glad I did make the photo.
While I hope you won't be one of those people that I give dirty looks to for talking on (or heaven forbid shooting pictures with) their cell phones while driving, you can still keep a camera with you wherever you go. You might not want to drag a DSLR with you every time you go out to the supermarket, but there are lots of high quality digital point-and-shoot cameras that will fit in a shirt pocket. They make a great second camera. Or you can do what my friend does: just shoot with your cell phone and email pictures to your friends while you're stopped in traffic.
A Rainy Photowalk in Yangshuo
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