I’ve loved photography since the age of 12 when after much cajoling, my parents gave me a point and shoot camera. Throughout middle and high school, I practiced photography consistently, asking anyone and everyone to model for me. Right from the start, I adored it.
As I advanced, I graduated to increasingly sophisticated cameras: a film SLR in high school, a DSLR in college, a Canon Rebel in my early twenties. Then and now, I mostly took photos of my travels.
When I started my blog at the age of 22, I quickly became fixated on the most coveted camera of the blogosphere; the Canon Mark II. Every blogger and photographer I admired seemed to have one. No matter that the Mark II was enormous, making it impractical for travel photography. If I’m going to become a real photographer, I thought, I need a Mark II.
Several years later, I finally bought my dream camera — a full-frame Canon similar to the Mark II. It cost a king’s ransom, but in my mind, it was well worth the expense. By investing in my dream camera, I would finally become the amazing photographer I had always hoped to be… right?
Except that didn’t happen. My skills remained the same, and the camera was so heavy I barely used it. On the road, I had no desire to lug around something so unwieldy and valuable.
But on the other hand, leaving it locked in the hotel safe wracked me with guilt. Why had I invested all this money in something I wasn’t even using? Why was I capturing my travels with my phone? Having a heavy, impractical camera was doing the opposite of what I had pictured — it was making me lose interest in photography.
So after spending three years guilt-tripping myself about the thing, I finally threw in the towel. I bought a much lighter camera — the Fujifilm X-Pro 2. The X-Pro 2 is a mirrorless camera, making it much lighter but still optically excellent. After a few trips, I quickly realized that having a mirrorless camera is perfect for me; they’re lightweight and durable, but still takes great photos.
Buying a full-frame camera taught me what kind of photographer I am. I’m primarily a travel photographer. I like to be spontaneous. I don’t like being weighed down by a lot of gear.
I’ve also learned that the gear doesn’t make the photographer, an idea I would have scoffed at in my early twenties. But it’s true — buying a big, fancy camera won’t turn you into Steve McCurry. Gear is somewhat important, but it’s not everything.
Now, I’ve come full circle. I just want photography to be fun like it was in high school. I have a new rule with photography – don’t complicate it. No tripods or taking photos in RAW. And guess what? My love for photography has come back.
Maybe by keeping photography simple, I’ve relegated myself to forever being an amateur. Honestly, that’s fine. I just want to take photos of my travels. And you don’t need a fancy, ten-pound camera to do that.