Written by: Grant
I’m rather late to the whole photography thing. Growing up, my parents always had a camera somewhere, I imagine, or at least every once in awhile there was a roll of film going to the store to get developed. Also there are pictures of me as a kid, so that’s pretty strong supporting evidence. The camera itself was nothing noteworthy, just an “I take pictures” thing. I would also periodically find myself on a school field trip with a disposable camera and felt obligated to use it. I never had much interest in them as I was more focused on actually being wherever I was, and the charge-up flash was probably the coolest part. Sometimes those cameras got taken to get developed, sometimes they didn’t. There probably wasn’t anything worth taking a second look at either way.
I also remember a road trip with a couple good friends right out of high school from Arizona up to Seattle and back in my luxurious 80’s Buick Riviera. We ended up driving through Zion National Park, and at this point I think I had an early 2000’s point and shoot camera that my parents insisted I take some pictures with. I distinctly recall driving by some gorgeous scenery and taking pictures of the other people taking pictures. Exclusively.
The idea that I was more interested in living in the moment rather than capturing it for later in a photo carried on into and through college. I had my point and shoot, but it was awful, and took awful photos (as far as I was concerned, it couldn’t possibly have been my fault) and it rarely made its way out of a drawer. I had a very good time in college, met a lot of great people and went to my share of exciting places and events. I remember a lot of them, but much of it is bits and pieces here and there.
Soon after college is when I got my first smartphone, an iPhone 3G. It had a camera built in, and worked better than any other camera I’d used, plus I was already carrying it in my pocket, so I didn’t need to plan in advance to have a camera. I still didn’t much care for photography; sure I had my phone, and it did a good enough job capturing a silly license plate or a noteworthy car in a parking lot, or the bitchinest mullet at the Pima county fair.
I didn’t know anything about exposure, dynamic range, aperture, ISO (at least as it pertains to photography, I’d dealt with ISO testing at work), and I definitely didn’t care about white balance. Digital cameras were just vestiges of the time before smartphones and for people who weren’t tech-savvy enough to live in the modern world, with DSLRs being for the most pretentious and snootiest of the bunch.
I’d been steadily starting to take more pictures after my girlfriend (now wife) and I got a puppy (still a puppy 7 years later), but smartphone camera tech outpaced my needs well enough that I never had any interest in a camera that was only a camera, when I was already carrying around a text messaging and internet machine that was also a camera on the side (and occasionally, annoyingly, made a phone call).
I’m not entirely sure if it was having a child, finding the first gray hair in my beard, realizing that I don’t actually remember all that much about a lot of the places I’ve been or people I was with, or the gradual maturation that comes with having a steady job and no longer packing up all of my possessions and moving every 3 months that lets one better appreciate the view afforded by a nice sunrise on the drive in to work (even if it’s merely pretty, and not epic), the way a country road darts through a full canopy of trees, or a mischievous smile from your wife, which is far from a new or rare thing, but reminds you of the picture she has of herself shortly after high school with some friends on a trip to Germany in a biergarten while still well underage by US standards.
At any rate, when Kristen told me a couple years ago that what she really wanted was a “fancy camera”, it no longer struck me as such a silly notion and waste of money.
Since we got the camera, there have been some ups and downs, times when the camera would snap dozens of pictures, and then sit dormant in its bag for days or weeks. More recently, its been in use almost every day, and we get better with (almost) every picture we take, just like our son gets bigger and taller just about every day, whether we can notice the difference from yesterday to today or not.
Personally, I’ve come to some realizations. A phone can take some wonderful pictures, but definitely struggles with motion and low light, and life with a toddler frequently involves giggling and sprinting across the living room. It doesn’t take much to just take a step or two back periodically and snap some photos while you’re out living your best life. Sometimes it’s nicer to look at pictures of your cat looking majestic, than deal with your cat being her normal self.
A handful of pictures of a grandson or great grandson can mean the world to grandparents living thousands of miles away. Perhaps most importantly, I may be the one living my life, but it’s not all about me.