I bought my first DSLR in 2007. It became my faithful companion on every single trip I took after that – be it on out of town or an evening out with friends. I carried it to the beach, clubs, restaurants and even just out for a walk. Looking back, I can say that I was perhaps obsessed about not missing a shot.
Eventually, it grew to be a habit. I would pop it into my bag or in my car as I was heading out. I rarely removed it for worthwhile shots. Mostly, it was portraits or some architecture.
Street Photography, my true love, often eluded me – seated in fast moving cars or bikes in high traffic. Even when the mind registered a shot, by the time I pulled the camera out etc, I’d have moved past the moment.
On vacations, the camera became a monkey on my shoulder. I’d carry it around everywhere… looking for photographs. But unless i was traveling alone, I could either shoot or I could hang out with my friends.
Soon, the camera would be shoved under a seat or stored in the boot. It’d be under the table after a few cursory photographs.
Photography requires patience. It requires visualization. Framing a shot becomes second nature to many of us in photography. We see frames everywhere we go. The light in the sky, the way a building in angled against the horizon, the stoop of an old man walking on the road, the laughter of a girl out with her dog for a walk. If I could print every single photograph that’s there in my mind, I would have a 1000 great shots.
But if I try to print the ones that I actually managed to shoot in my DSLR, I would probably find two.
Constantly having a DSLR with you meant there was a constant tug-of-war in my head to be in two places at the same time. Even when i saw the perfect shot, I would perhaps not have the time to compose it to the way I want to. And the end result, if I did shoot, was not to my satisfaction. Reviewing the photographs gave me a sense of inadequacy rather than a sense of accomplishment. And somewhere, that affects you as an artist.
When I was headed for yet another vacation, I decided to leave it home. If nothing, it would resolve the conflict in my head and I could actually enjoy the vacation.
For those scenic sunset shots, my phone camera would suffice.
I shot over 50 images in those 3 short days. Most of them were something that I could’ve done better if I had a DSLR, but then if I had a DSLR, I’d probably have missed that moment as well.
The improvements in phone cameras has been reassuring to photographers like me. It is less intrusive and has enough controls to compose a shot to your liking. There are add-on lenses that help, in some cases. The Hasselblad add-ons for Motorola sound wonderful.
As an artist, the drive is to create. As a photographer, the drive is capture a moment as you see it in your head – and this is where a DSLR gives you the control required.
Over the years, I’ve learned as an artist to better not take a shot at all rather than have an imperfect shot.
As Ansel Adams said – Twelve Significant Photographs in any one year is a good crop.
(Feature Photo Image Credit: Aaron Burden)