Much has been said and written about photography’s probably most quoted quote, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” Or is it? This quote is a great equalizer. The image doesn’t matter. The quality of the image doesn’t matter. What matters is that a picture is taken at all cost. Shaky, blurry, highlights, whatever, not a problem. A problem arises when one fails to capture the moment — or in other words: what’s the point of a personal experience if you can’t prove it. But there are benefits to giving the camera a rest?
“Constantly trying to be aware of and capture the moment can often take you out of it,” says The Phoblographer‘s Julius Motal. He maintains a constant awareness. This awareness is like radar. This preoccupation with nailing the moment and the momentary blackness resetting the mind when the viewfinder goes black, these side effects of photography can make images disappear altogether. Yes they’re on film or on a memory card. Yet, “Oftentimes I find it easier to remember the images I’ve missed than the ones I’ve made.”
The photographer more focused on the image than on experiencing life isn’t a renunciation of photography, says Motal. “Rather, it’s being aware that my awareness can be as much a detriment as it is an asset. The moment shouldn’t rule the photographer (…) Choosing not to make the image can be as important as choosing to make it, and in some instances it can be more beneficial.”
Leaving the camera at home can open a door to experience life more immediately. And to open the eyes again and be aware without the camera being both an extension of the hands and eyes. Motal calls this “a way to reset the mind” to “have peace of mind.”
Because, honestly, sometimes there is very little to photograph. The photos might look technically perfect showing good composition, discipline and mastering of the camera. But little else. It’s so much easier to just use a camera, echnically, than to make good use of it, aesthetically.
Why force it. Sometimes it is good to give the camera a rest.
Jaded gear doesn’t make up for a lack in artistic imagination, we all know that. How each and everyone of us photographs is nothing else than who and how we are, as Ming Thein says. Each and every photo is a reflection of our very own condition. As much as you can judge a man by his shoes you can judge a man by his photographs.
Want to get better and change your images? Change yourself.
Serenity, dear friends. Composure. Take a step back from yourself. Ignore the camera once in a while. To reset the mind and see again.