I try to make as many photos as I can. I love the art of making photographs through capturing small snippets of the places and lives that I touch. I love that I can have a record of being with my friends and share those moments with them later, a group context that only we can share.
I’m a photographer.
I started with a junky thing in an old flip-phone, and from there was gifted a nice point-and-shoot. That lasted a few years, until I was again gifted an amazingly lovely entry-level DSLR, the Nikon D60.
Once, that camera came with me everywhere, spare lenses included. Once, I was taking photos of everything I could, interesting and not. Having my camera with me was more than a possibility, it was expected, much to the chagrin of my shoulders.
One of the things I used to do before I moved to New Zealand was go for photo-walks with that D60. For several hours of the evening almost every day I’d be out, just consuming the city around me, finding little areas that people had made their own.
This, for instance, I called the Path of Flowers. It’s touching and heartfelt and a fine example of people making a public space truly theirs, that I never would have found without my daily walks.
You can see the full-size image here on 500px.
Those evening photowalks were ambrosia for me, helping me unwind from the deep depression of telecommuting for an unhealthy company and day-to-day isolation. It was something for myself, my own craft that none could take from me, and most importantly in the world to do it.
Environments and Passions
Moving to New Zealand put a large stop to that; not because of the move itself, but because of the huge upheaval in environment. I wasn’t allowed to bring my camera to work, meaning the immediacy of leaving work to start my walk was much less. Lunchtime photowalks never materialised as I put much greater importance of socialisation and early friendships formed at Weta, fighting back against my long workday isolation. Instead of walking in the evening, I was catching up on jet-lag, fighting exhaustion, growing accustomed to the dark wetness of a Wellington winter, and most importantly beginning to date my partner.
That I once took long walks to explore the crooks and crannies of my city flowed into the past, and I found I didn’t notice its absence. When my D60 died, it wasn’t much noticed, at least not immediately.
Surely Bigger is Better
Of course, I’m a gadget whore. I replaced my D60 with a Nikon D7000; a very high-end model. I was serious about photography, or so I was insisting to myself. Having the D7000 during my trip around the South Island of New Zealand was excellent, but frustrating. The D7000 is bulky, andheavy. It wasn’t what I was used to, in a lot of ways.
The added weight and the disconnection from past photowalks meant after my trip the camera just sat, an expensive paperweight. What was the point of taking it anywhere, heavy and cumbersome as it was? I’d stopped taking photos, the experience having lost its magic and lost its meaning to me.
So what changed it all?
Well, I moved to a new company in the city centre, and now commute by foot instead of by bus. Taking photos on my phone has been fun but not inspiring, lacking in much of the oomph of what my DSLR could achieve.
A new lens for my DSLR would have just been more bulk. It wouldn’t have gotten me to take more photos. Instead, I wanted something that was better than my cellphone, but not big. Pocket-sized, good, that I would love to have with me. A camera that I would, above all else, use.
What I ended up with was a Panasonic GX1, with the pancake kit zoom. Small, if not as small as the best of the compacts. Interchangable lenses because I’m still all about buying new gadgets, and lenses are perhaps the best for that.
Most importantly pocketable. The GX1 fits in my hoodie pocket and my purse without being noticable, good enough that it acts as an amplifier for my growing skills. Did I mention how pocketable it is?
The end result is that I’m taking a lot of pictures, far more than I ever took when just carrying a cellphone, more even than the D60. Because I’m taking more photos, my understanding of photography is growing and I’m able to do more with my camera. Always having the camera with me asks me to look more at the world around me, study the shapes, colours, lights and the events that I walk by.
Having the GX1 with me showed me the magic I was missing from photography. The best kit made no difference to my photography, instead hindering me from growing my craft and love for the art. The best camera is the one you have, that you love.
I’d recommend anyone reading this and to be more involved in photography, follow a similar path. Keep your camera small enough that you want to carry it, good enough that you are blown away by the quality. It could be your smartphone, it could be a GX1, it could be anything at all. All that’s important is that you love it and miss it when it’s gone.
And take lots of photographs. Your magic is waiting, just like mine.