I carry my camera almost everywhere I go and catch amazing, candid shots by being open to unexpected situations and people. But, there are cases where you should put your camera away or not bring it at all for various reasons. It can be inappropriate and in some cases illegal to take shots, unless you have been specifically hired to photograph on that day.
In most cases, unless it is public, outdoor art, you cannot take photos in museums. The work is copyrighted and cannot be recopied or photographed for fear of it being reproduced and sold illegally. Zoos or other museums with live animals are a different situation which are in most cases, open to any photography. Aside from the copyright issues, taking photos with a flash is harmful to the artwork. Most fine art is kept in a specifically humidified room at a specific temperature with low lighting to conserve the color and materials. Using a flash, over time, will wear down a piece, especially very old ones. Most museum guards or security will stop you from taking photos for these reasons.
Taking photos during weddings is a very fine line. I often take photos at my friend’s wedding but pay careful attention to when it is appropriate. Be respectful of the bride and groom and the photographer they may have hired during the day. Don’t get in the way or be obtrusive when taking your shots. Unless they have specifically asked you, the shots are for yourself so be in the background as much as you can. It is their day and in many cases, being just a guest having a good time is a lot more fun! If they are very close friends or family, taking shots will not be a big deal, just listen to your inner instinct on when the timing seems right.
Again, this can be OK or not OK, depending on the situation. Many parents are sensitive about people taking shots of their children and you need to make sure that you have their permission or are in a very public situation. Again, it will most likely feel right when it is OK to shoot photos of children. They are some of my favorite subjects because of their innocence and being completely oblivious to you photograph them. But, once or twice I have been asked to stop and that is only fair. It makes some people uncomfortable. Always put down your camera when someone asks you to, unless you know the situation is completely appropriate and within your rights.
I take photos with my husband all the time, but I do put the camera away on a date. I also would not have even brought it on some of our first dates. It can make people uncomfortable and can spoil the intimate moments and minimize conversation. There is a time and a place for photography and when trying to spend quality with someone one-on-one, it may not be either of those. Enjoy your personal time!
Again, most people take a lot of photos on their vacations. It is full of places and people you have never seen and might never see again. The landscapes and situations can be beautiful and breathtaking. I am not suggesting to take no photos on vacation but rather to know, like on dates, when to enjoy your personal time. Take time out to just enjoy the scenery, food, smells and people. You may miss some of these unforgettable moments if you are behind the camera. Capture your trip but also stop and spend time relaxing as well!
In many situations, your own instinct will tell you when to take a photo and when to put the camera away. If not, experience will help you know as well. The more you shoot, the more situations you will come across. You will gain past experience that will tell you when to be careful. There are many more cases when to put the camera away; this is just a small sample.