On this blog and elsewhere, I have commented on my ongoing photographic pursuit and passion… for lack of a better way to put it. And not too long ago, I essentially announced that I was transitioning to a new phase, moving on, turning a corner. In effect, I was looking to change the trajectory and doing all I could to find a proper and lasting inflection point.
Well, I may have found it.
I may have.
First, a bit about the history and the why. I have always considered photography to be my “way of seeing”, to be a form of visual mindfulness, a means of staying in the moment, to be fully connected to an experience. A camera, like a walking stick, has always been my tool for the trek, an essential implement to help improve what I love, that being the outdoors, turning the bend on an unknown trail, and wondering what lies up ahead. I’ve been drawn to discovery.
My practice, not entirely by design or strategy, has been to capture what I see so that I might not only be in the moment but also so that I will remember that specific moment, the very experience, and how I felt at the time.
Unfortunately, something got lost or maybe better said confused along the way. Rather than using photography as the walking stick, I began to use it to capture better reminders of the experience. Like postcards. To do this well, I thought that I needed to extend the tool to every situation I might encounter. Wildlife on the trail? Long lenses needed. Slot canyons? Super wide. Need to push pixels and crop in? Higher resolution. Dreamy fall off on the portrait? Faster lenses. They’re announcing something new and better in a few months. I bet it will be awesome and I should probably get it…
And… on and on this went.
Eventually, I got tired of being on the trail with a heavy bag full of lenses. Figuratively and literally. I grew ever wearier of the constant barrage of Youtube videos and website declarations beckoning me toward the notion that some type of purchase would make my photography better. That if I only had an X or a Y or a Z, I would be more successful and more fulfilled. But despite all of my attempts, I never felt as though I was arriving. Or even getting closer.
I got tired of it. So, I quit photography. I moved on.
Or at least, that’s how I described it at the time. I knew that I wasn’t going to stop photographing altogether but I didn’t have the words to truly detail what I was feeling. About how it really was a longing for that inflection point. I came to understand that this meant stepping away from what I had been doing. And dramatically so.
Though I am not necessarily recommending this approach to others, I decided to get rid of all gear and to focus on a single, fixed lens, black and white only camera. A Leica Q2 Monochrom.
Limit. Constraint. Straightforward.
My mantra became: Get closer. Get simpler.
Most importantly, rather than using photography as a way to remember what I see, I am beginning to use photography to remember what I felt. To use it as a means to capture an experience rather than simply to replicate it.
Basically, it’s a fresh start.