Phillip recently took my camera for a swim and learned it couldn’t.
To be fair: he leapt into the Peshtigo River to assist his sister and her husband, whose canoe had just overturned, causing them to lose prescription eyeglasses and assorted other unsecured articles. My camera happened to be hanging over his shoulder and in the excitement, he realized this too late to spare its full-immersion death by drowning.
For a few weeks, I was without a camera and suffered severe withdrawal, reaching for it frequently when something lovely came into view, only to realize I’d just have to enjoy the moment for what it was: no opportunities to record, copy, or store the images. To be or not to be; that was the invitation. Just be; watch; notice. Or not.
And it was difficult. When a photographer sees “a moment,” it can be excruciating not to have a camera. (Of course, it can be even worse to have a camera and ruin the shot, but that’s another post.)
It was illuminating to notice what I noticed, however: why would this moment deserve my attention and the next barely register? I appreciated the insights into the imagery I value and, after a few twitchy days, I also appreciated not having to worry about “capturing” a moment; enjoying it fully was satisfaction enough. Taking a break from our passions may allow us to re-engage at a new level and with deeper appreciation, willing to try new ways of expressing those hidden or inchoate parts of ourselves that only art can translate into being.
I received a new camera for my birthday. And I’m grateful, though still passing through the awkward stage of learning where the bells and whistles are on this improved version of the camera I loved. The initial clumsiness that new technology always presents has cost me a few good photo-ops, but I notice I’m fumbling for the correct buttons less often and getting better acquainted with “Bessie.” At least now when I miss a photo, I’m fairly sure why.
I’ve been experimenting and adding to our Full Moon Guest Book Photo Album. The daisy garden was very busy this week; the bird feeders are always full of hungry travelers. I notice; therefore, I photograph…and therefore I notice more gratefully.