There was a period in my life when I was an active amateur photographer. It was a time when I travelled a lot. With a camera in hand most if not all of the time, some of my best photos came from this period. Coming home was hard: family would politely sit through my slideshows but it wasn’t hard to tell, after a while, they did not “get” my enthusiasm.
When I wasn’t traveling, I was doing quite a bit of hiking. Nature photography became my next outlet. And with it, the desire for faster lenses and longer zooms.
My Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) peaked with the birth of my first child. My husband, who accompanied me in the delivery room was given control of all the cameras because for once, I couldn’t be behind the camera. Relinquishing that control was hard! As my child grew and starting moving about, I “needed” a new camera. One that had faster AF so that I didn’t end up with blurry pictures. One that was compact, so I would actually bring it with me, along with the massive amount of baby gear we needed, every time we went out.
Then, a shocking thing happened. I no longer enjoyed photography. No matter how unobtrusive the camera, I could not be fully present when I was also thinking about making a photo. More and more now, I am photographing on my phone and less worried about if and how the photo actually turns. Sometimes I don’t get the shot I wanted, and it’s not even that big of a deal any more. At first, it seemed like one of those parenting realities hitting me in the face. But upon further reflection, maybe it is just another phase in my development as a photographer.
With the availability of really good cameras everywhere, it’s easy to take a good picture. It’s easy to let the shutter do the storytelling for us. What I loved about photography was the process of creating a story and trying to express it in an image. I can remember the excitement of developing my first photos in my dorm’s darkroom – photos taken on a second-hand fixed lens manual focus film camera. Even among my digital images, my best photographs were not done with my most expensive camera.
They were taken at a time in my life when I was more invested in each photo I took, when I was leaving a bit more of myself with the people I encountered and the places that I visited. I look forward to a time when I can enjoy photography as I used to.