I don’t take a lot of photographs anymore.
I’ve had this entry kicking around in my head for weeks now, and I’ve tried to think of a million different ways to start this post. But the line I keep coming back to is “I don’t take a lot of photographs anymore.” I’ve heard that brevity is beautiful, so you’re welcome for that one-liner.
And the statement is sad but true. I have not one, but two wonderful DSLR cameras: a Nikon D40, with 10,000+ shutter depressions on it (and it’s good until about 40k), and a Nikon D3100 that takes stunning pictures. Add to that my iPhone 4s, which has the same amount of megapixels as the D40, and I have the trifecta for camera awesomeness in all its Apple and Nikon-y glory.
But yet, my photos are few and far between.
Online and offline friends alike all have their Instagram or Flickr accounts, and are posting/uploading beautiful photos almost daily. I’ll surf my feeds and see the images and think “Man, I have the ability and the equipment to do stuff like that, so why don’t I just DO it?”
Easy answer: I don’t like being conspicuously inconspicuous.
That phrase took some twisting of the fingers to bang out, so let me explain what I mean by it.
I read a quote from a character who was a photographer in a Jennifer Weiner book (shut up), and the reasons she gave for having her camera at all times was to be present, but not. Having a camera in front of your face allows you a degree of separation from what’s happening in that moment. While I agree that the statement is fundamentally true, I also see the converse to be true.
Taking the photo instead of participating in the moment is a way to separate and disassociate, but by doing something completely different and separate from the situation or group you’re by default calling attention to yourself. Everyone is standing and laughing, but you’re on one knee on the ground, two feet away, trying to take a picture.
That’s what I mean by being conspicuously inconspicuous. In theory no one notices you, but I feel so visible that it makes me uncomfortable. Even walking down the street with my phone and snapping a quick photo has the same effect. It feels like there are eyes on me, wondering what hipster picture I’m taking and with what faux vintage finish.
I know I shouldn’t give a shit, that I shouldn’t care and should just take pictures anyways. I’ve even been told that a few of them were good. But for some reason my socially anxious side will not let me get over this mental block. This is why my photos so rarely have myself in them (the one-arm selfie? I’m squirming inside!), or many people at all for that matter. I take pictures of things, because things can’t turn around and ask me what the hell I think I’m doing with my camera.
I don’t know where this came from either; as a journalist in school we had to do photo assignments once a week, and I was completely capable of and comfortable with shooting that quantity of photos. I got some great shots in return, too. But somewhere between graduation and real life, I lost the ability to let loose with my camera.
I’m going to try the Fat Mum Slim Photo a Day challenge for June, and see where it takes me. I don’t want to promise I’ll finish, or even that the photos will all be on time, but that I’ll at least try. Maybe the return to school-like uninhibited photography assignments will give me the kick in the shutter finger that I need.