My Photographic Journey

I had a disaster yesterday. At least what amounts to a disaster in my little world. I went out for the afternoon to try to get some decent photos to use for my course assessment and took two lenses. Now, I hate carrying things and try my best to travel light, but you know how women just have to have certain things with them? So yesterday instead of taking my main handbag that weighs a ton and slides off my shoulder whenever I try to take a picture, I took a tiny little bag that has lots of sections and padded it out to take my zoom lens along with the usual essentials. Going outwards on the walk in Shaldon I used the camera with its standard lens and at the furthest point, frustrated by my crappy shots, I changed to the zoom and put the standard into the camera case. Got some slightly better shots but not really what I was hoping for, the views across the estuary to Teignmouth were invaded by industrial warehouses.

Shaldon was a delight to wander around though, there was a decent butcher and a divine bakery (I’ve just had their tomato bread warmed and filled with cheese for lunch) with lower than supermarket prices. Back at the Ness car park, having snapped all the way, and in too much of a hurry, I rummaged for the zooms lens cap in the camera case. Unfortunately the case was at a funny angle and out fell the lens, landed with a clunk on the tarmac and rolled into the verge. I swore as I bent to pick it up, there was a brief moment before it fully registered and then I burst into tears when I heard the rattle of shattered glass. I cried all the way home and for most of the evening.

If you know me well, you’re probably wondering why I’m making such a fuss about something material that can be replaced. You may be thinking that it must be insured. Well I’ve had it three years and never had a problem before – believe it or not I’m very careful – and when it was due for renewal in June I decided that two hundred pounds to insure the camera and its lenses was more than I could afford. I’ll now have to spend that much to replace it, sometime.

So why the strong reaction? I’ve never been a dropper or breaker of things, been tempted to be a thrower of things at times, but as I have a scar over my left eye from having a stone thrown at me, I never will. It took me a while to work out the cause of my tears, it wasn’t something being broken, it was about a photographic item being broken. I had my first camera when I was about eighteen, a Kodak Instamatic no less, a cheap, simple to operate little thing that produced small square prints. I couldn’t afford to take too many photos, the cost was prohibitive and continued to be for many years. But even then I had a good eye and could see many, many photos crying out to be taken. Being a mum was the priority for many years and I was never in the position to own a camera. Just before the dawn of digital I bought a nice little compact 35mm followed by my first canon digital with just 3.2 megapixels but I took some good shots with it. That was in 2003 and two years later I upgraded to a 5 megapixel Canon and then I was away, teaching myself to use Photoshop 7 and using my photos to make cards, some of which I actually sold!

In 2008 a dream came true when I got an eos 450d with two lenses and the following year a third. I’m still learning to use it and I think I’m getting there because it’s set to manual these days. My ‘eye’ has grown faster than my techie skills could ever keep up with and if I’m honest there’s a limit to how much interest I can drum up in the ‘sciencey’ stuff I’m supposed to be learning on my Open University digital photography course. That’s where I am right now with photography. I wonder how much more skilled I would be by now if I had been allowed to use the equipment that had been in my house for most of my life? But I wasn’t, instead I was always told to leave it alone, don’t touch it you’ll break it, it’s too complex, delicate and expensive, and the  bottom line YOU’RE TOO DAMN STUPID TO USE IT.

And so there I stood yesterday in shock as my expensive, delicate, complex lens crunched to the ground and shattered. Is it any wonder that I cried? Now I’m okay, for the first time ever, I have by my carelessness, allowed something to break, but it really isn’t the end of the world.