Rachel Henderson Photography Blog [Archived]

Photography/Parenting tip: No chimping allowed

September 06, 2007   |   by Rachel

Janna's (Jared's sister) comment on the last post perfectly teed-up my next photography tip. It has to do with a little habit called chimping. Chimping is what photographers call looking at the images on the back of the digital camera. The term comes from the sound that a photographer makes when he sees that he just got a great shot. He sees the the image and then makes a monkey sound-chimping. For more on this click here. Now that so many cameras don't have viewfinders, just screens, chimping is an integral part of digital photography. It gives you that instant feedback and lets you know if you got the image you wanted or if you should keep trying. It helps make you a better photographer. Professionals try to avoid doing it too much because they might miss a shot if they are looking at their camera. But for most people it is a great habit. So go ahead and chimp away.Here's where my tip comes in-kids. Kids LOVE to chimp, it's like pressing the buttons in an elevator. There's something primal in children that drives them to want it. Don't let them. If you have allowed it in the past, cut them off. If they are babies, don't start. As soon as you start allowing chimping you limit your ability to capture a candid image of you child. You get between 1 and 5 seconds before the kid stops feeding the emu (or whatever cute thing he was doing) and runs over to the camera to see the picture. If you have children you probably already know this. I am encouraging you to ruthlessly cut them off. Be a cruel parent and don't allow them to ever see the back of the camera again.If you cut them off they will start to understand and they will stop asking (ideally). It might a take a couple of battles, or maybe an all out war but it is worth it. Have you ever seen your kid doing something cute and and thought about getting the camera. But then you are struck with the problem that getting the camera would probably disrupt the situation so much so that your child will stop their sweet behavior. Train your kids to ignore you when you get the camera out. Don't let them chimp. It will make photography so much easier.Jared and Win were at a wedding while I was shooting a rehearsal for another wedding. Jared was holding Win in the back of the dark sanctuary when Win spotted the photographer. He pointed to her and started saying, "Ma ma, Ma ma." Win thinks is so normal for me to be holding a camera that he thought that anyone holding a camera must be me. Train your kids that it is normal and uninteresting for you to have a camera. Don't allow the camera to be interesting in itself. The best pictures are the ones that they don't know or care that you are taking.I'll post again tomorrow about, "cheese."

Posted in: photography tips

1 Comment


Hmm, ok, this one is my new favorite.