When I Release The Shutter I Feel…

With my favourite cameras, the moment I release the shutter button I feel…

Serenity. Everything is quiet, almost absent, I can’t even hear my own breath. I feel calm, detached from the every day and the mundane, but simultaneously more deeply connected, earthed and rooted to the place I’m in.


Escape from everything else in the world. Whether using a viewfinder or a screen, I’m engaged and immersed in the four corners of that rectangle, that frame of my own choosing. Nothing else matters, nothing else really exists, this is about as pure and entire as escapism gets.

Time stand still. Photography has many magic tricks, maybe the greatest one being able to capture a moment forever, whether on film or in pixels. But in addition, when I squeeze the shutter I also lose all concept of the relentless rush of time. It doesn’t so much stand still, but dissolve completely.


Excitement at what the photograph will look like. I have a preview of the image on screen or in the viewfinder, but it doesn’t give the complete picture. I don’t know how the irreversible final image really looks until it’s on my computer screen. That anticipation is exciting, and begins at that moment I’m poised and about to fire the shutter.

Relief that I can exhale and inhale again. Mostly unconsciously, I hold my breath when I take a picture. Partly out of habit to reduce any possible camera shake, and partly to somehow still the world and lose myself in it further. So it’s a relief after the shutter fires to realise I’m alive and still breathing.


How do you feel when you release the shutter? 

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10 thoughts on “When I Release The Shutter I Feel…”

  1. Same here…. I even hold my breath to avoid camera shake. Each time I press the shutter is a great moment. It’s the final act, capturing the scene the way I imagine it…. well, mostly.

    When I am out with a camera I’m in a parallel world where I observe, search for a scene to capture. There’s magic in that world, a kind of magic that makes stuff happen for me to fix on film. at least I think so. Or is it that when I’m in that wonderful mood, I notice more stuff?

    Very often the image, when developed, scanned is just like I wanted it… but not always! The moment I press the shutter I often know if the image will work out or not.

    And yes, time seems to stand still in those moments….

    1. Love your paragraph about the parallel world Frank, I definitely relate. I think just carrying a camera helps us see things we would otherwise overlook – whether we actually take a picture of it or not!

  2. Anxiety. I feel anxiety. Did I frame it well? Did I just waste a frame? Did I expose it properly? Did I miss anything?

    I really need to work on being more Zen about it.

    1. Jim this really surprises me, in fact it’s quite a shock because it’s almost the dead opposite of what I feel and why I photograph. The last thing I wanted is more anxiety in my life, photography is therapy and relaxation for me! Why do you continue if it’s not enjoyable?

      1. I love going out for a photo walk. It is deeply relaxing. I love the act of composition. I love seeing the results come back from the scanner. But at the moment I press the shutter button I do feel a quick burst of anxiety. I have committed whatever I just framed, and I always hope that I got it right. If there’s any consolation, it’s that I am far less anxious at that moment now than I was 10 years ago.

      2. Ah ok Jim, that’s more like what I thought. So is it strange having an overall relaxing experience, interspersed with moments of anxiety? Anyway, glad you’ve got less anxious about it over the years, I hope that continues.

  3. When I Release The Shutter I Feel…
    Relief that I have yet another memory/moment in time …. captured….
    Not only for my benefit and pleasure, but for others to browse over when I’m long gone….
    Sometimes I do find myself taking shots for others,…. as that may be I do have a strong urge to ensure that “our heritage ” is captured, ensuring that the past is presented when called upon…
    Living in the country but near a major town that is famous for manufacturing…. for me means that due to the global economy going down the pan …gives me the idea that I am somehow helping to preserve time ….making sure that buildings and factories are captured …. before they either get knocked down for house building or the latest bypass etc….
    That’s what I feel when releasing the shutter…

    BR Lynd

    1. Lynd, thanks for your philosophical thoughts. I think similarly sometimes when I notice something has disappeared that I know I took a photograph of in the past. My photograph then seems to become a more historical document, a capture of a scene and a moment that can now never be repeated…

  4. Hmmm I feel…
    Satisfaction that I found and captured an image that I wanted and slight excitement about what I am going to do with it; some trepidation that I have made a mistake but only slight as ultimately there will be other images other opportunities. Slightly the opposite to Frank I generally breath out and hold rather than holding a full breath, it’s better for a steady shot i have found especially when on slower shutter speeds.

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