July 07, 2013

Plight of the Avid Amateur

Since I take a camera - a real camera, not just a camera phone - with me everywhere I go, I tend to be a little rough on it.

I don't hike without it.

Sometimes I drop it.

Sometimes I fall with it still in my grip.

Sometimes it's raining.

Sometimes it turns itself on inside my bag, and spends a few minutes trying to zoom out the lens inside its case before the Power Save Mode kicks in and shuts it off.

Although my first point-and-shoot film camera lasted an incredible 13 years, my most recent camera only lasted a couple of years, and its predecessor - my first digital camera, the one I bought for my Morocco trip - only a couple of years before that.

The zoom on this one had been broken for over a year, but I'd continued to use it, and take some pretty good pictures (I hope).

And then on Friday, the lens refused to come out of hiding when I turned on the camera. I could no longer take pictures with a lens that wouldn't move.

Since repairing it would probably cost as much as the camera's entire value, I decided it was time to get a new one.

Since I use a relatively low-end model, l'd been thinking for a while that I should upgrade to a better camera. Though I think I use it well, if I ever want to exhibit my photography, or print it, maybe I should be taking better pictures.

Unfortunately, I'm just not trained as a photographer. I'm entirely self-taught by trial-and-error, and even when I had a nice 35MM SLR camera, I mostly relied on its automatic settings rather than exploiting its manual settings - a waste of a nice piece of equipment.

So when choosing a new camera, after considering all the new models that feature the most modern technology, I finally settled on the newest version of the same basic model I've been using. Although I did try using one of the more advanced ones, which entirely baffled me, I didn't want to change. I'd already figured this camera out to the fullest extent of its (albeit limited) ability. I wasn't ready to go outside of my comfort zone.

Once I'd made my decision, I was beating myself up a little bit over it, thinking I should buckle down and take a photography class and actually learn the craft, to hone whatever talent I actually might have.

But a songwriter who writes music on a keyboard they can't play might not take piano lessons, because it would limit them - impose rules on them - thereby changing their songwriting style. There is a freedom in not knowing, in being unrestricted by technique.

If you know you have to do things a certain way, you may never come up with a new way of doing them.

I might not be doing it right. I might not be doing my best. I might be doing only good enough. I'm not even an untrained professional. I am, at best, an avid amateur. But this small, weightless camera has become an extension of my arm, operable with a single thumb and forefinger, in the dark, in the rain, with my eyes squinted shut to keep out the sand. And I love using it.

And if I break this cheap one - which I surely will - it's a loss I'll be able to handle. If I must keep an expensive camera precious and pristine, I'll never end up really using it.

Related Posts:
Dust on the Lens

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