Up until about a year ago “photographer” was one of the first adjectives I would use to describe myself. Then I kind of stopped taking photos. I have some theories about why I stopped (burnout, lack of inspiration, lack of motivation…), but all of a sudden I just stopped wanting to take pictures. Well, OK, not altogether, just the kind that require a camera other than my iPhone.
The weird thing is, it bothered me from the moment I noticed it. I LOVE taking photos. I love the whole process. Film, digital, whatever. But for some reason I just couldn’t bring myself to carry a real camera around with me anymore. And if I did get myself to take some photos on a real camera, getting them off of that camera and onto my computer was a whole different story. When I finally brought myself to download a CF card I would find things from MONTHS ago that I’d forgotten I’d even shot.
I miss it. A lot. And now that I’m starting to want to take photos again I find myself really anxious about it. What if I’m not as good as I used to be? What if someone asks me to take photos and I can’t deliver because I’m out of practice and I forgot some stupid setting? I know that’s likely not to happen, but still. For some reasons I have this ridiculous fear.
So I’ve been trying to take more pictures around the house and I’ve at least started to carry a camera with me every day. It’s a film camera and to be honest I think I’ve only used it once since I put it in my bag about a month ago, but it’s progress.
The other day I took a shot on my iPhone of some flowers I got at the farmer’s market. I decided it would be a good chance to break out my good camera (I never unpacked it after the move) and take some shots.
I was definitely rusty – my hands weren’t as steady as they used to be (and that’s important when you’re shooting a macro!) and I had to fiddle with settings for a bit, but it was nice. And then I walked straight over to my computer and loaded them up. And edited them right then and there. It was the first time I edited a photo in a long, LONG time.
Later that day when I logged on to Flickr I saw the two photos next to each other – the one I’d taken with my iPhone and the one I’d taken with my dSLR and edited. That’s when it struck me. I’d completely forgotten about the ART of photography. Without even realizing, I’d gotten into the habit of treating photography like a tweet or a foursquare check-in. I used a snapshot to mark an occasion and wanted to have my shot and have it online in under a minute, rather than my former habit of taking a higher quality series of shots to document the whole experience and then reliving it when I got home that evening to edit an upload. Sure, Instagram and hipstamatic gave my snapshots a little more flavor, but they weren’t PHOTOS. They weren’t PHOTOGRAPHY. At least not by the definition I’d just reminded myself of.
It’s strange that it took me so long to come to that realization considering my history of Flickr photos over the last year or so is almost exclusively iPhone shots with the occasional scanned photo from a film roll. But nevertheless, now that I know, I’m determined to get myself back on the wagon of Photography. Note the capital “P”.
Here are the two shots that lead me to my mini-epiphany:
See what I mean?! That second shot isn’t the best thing I’ve ever done, but it’s CERTAINLY better than that first one. Now I just have to remind myself of that every time I go to take a quick shot with my iPhone…