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When is it time to put down the camera?

Updated: Jun 30, 2020

When is it time to not photograph? I'd like to think never, but the older I get, the easier it is to answer that question. I've had a love for photography since my darkroom days in high school, but it wasn't until my early 30s that photography became a major part of my life.

My days became eat, sleep, day job, and photography. It left little room for anything else. I had to ask myself, when was the time to leave the viewfinder at home and look through my own eyes.

As photographers we document what we see. The people, places, and things that tell a story. But can we really understand our subjects if we are always looking for the next great shot? When is it more important to be part of the scene, and not just an observer documenting it?

As I write this, I'm in a position were I have no choice but to put the camera down. I'm stuck inside my home socially distancing during the covid-19 pandemic. However, the itch is still there. Part of my mind is shouting, GET OUT THERE AND SHOOT! DOCUMENT THIS HISTORIC TIME! But in the end I know that socially distancing is the best thing I can do. Sticking my camera lens in the face of a first responder could do more harm than good. Sure, I could probably get some really great shots, but staying home and giving medical staff the time and space to do their jobs is what anyone should be doing.

It is a bummer to be separated from so many things, but it has opened my time up to a lot more. Like writing this blog post, reflecting on past photographic experiences, and doing laundry. Lots of laundry. My morning and evening commute has been replaced with a proper sit down breakfast and dinner. Working from home, has given me the quiet time to stay focused and improve my productivity. I am keeping myself occupied with photo projects around my home, but the majority of my time has been about getting back to basics.

I'm old school. I prefer face to face conversations, but I have been staying connected digitally. It's amazing how much more sincere digital interactions have become since the pandemic. Gifs and memes have been replaced with genuine concern for our loved ones. Humorous self quarantine videos, and covid inspired cover songs have added some much needed levity to our situation. In a way society has put down its camera and we all became part of the same picture.

abstract photography
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