Why Ditching My Dream Camera Made Me Love Photography Again

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.

Why switching to a mirrorless camera made me love photography again
My new, much lighter, camera

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.

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

16 thoughts on “Why Ditching My Dream Camera Made Me Love Photography Again”

  1. Ashley I just did the exact same thing! I was feeling so weighed down by my Canon and it was a huge deterrent to using it. Last month I sold it and all my lenses and bought a Fujifilm XT-20! It’s fantastic so far. I’ll probably buy one more lens to complete the kit and it’s still about a quarter of the weight of my last kit.

  2. Great choice. Fujifilm X-Pro 2 is a great camera. Everything you need on the run. Travel photography is about capturing the moment and spirit. Don’t underestimate the new iPhone optics, they are pretty good too. Are you on Instagram?

  3. I can so relate. It’s easy to build something up in our minds and think we need it, when in reality sometimes simple is better. Enjoyed hearing your story, thanks for sharing it. :)

  4. I’ve been wanting a mirrorless camera for a few months now and this is exactly why! I love my Canon Rebel I’ve had since high school, but it’s just so bulky and lugging it around is a huge deterrent for me when traveling. I’d love a small mirrorless camera that can fit in my pocket to bring on my travels!

  5. I too bought a DSLR some years ago and hated carting it around. But more importantly, I barely ever shot in RAW mode so there wasn’t much point of me having spent the money. Sadly, I’ve found that I gravitate most towards using my iphone x because let’s face it, it really does take good photos.

    Always a wonderful thing when the passion for something comes back :)

  6. Hahaha I just bought a Fuji TX30 last week. My Canon was getting so dusty and the Fuji is so slick and fun to use (and I already had one of my shots published on one of my fave sites with it!)

  7. Fujifilm has some excellent reputation. I also use mirrorless, and love it. I started with Panasonic, but I now shoot with Olympus OMD. I went to Olympus because of the built in image stabilisation, but also because of the Pen-F model which is so cool, but my husband convinced me to upgrade big time instead, so I use an OMD E-M1 Mark II, and love it. I love the size of mirrorless cameras, they really make you love photography, and take the camera with you everywhere.

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