ode to my gear

My Camera as Therapy

Way back in 2011, as I was recovering from what was 2010 for me, Jared suggested that I might like taking more pictures of anything and everything.

As usual, I should have known that he had done his research and that he was onto something that would be a therapeutic hobby for me. This brilliant husband of mine does nothing, suggests nothing, by happenstance.

I’m sitting here trying to think of what camera we had at the time. I think it might have still been the Sony Cybershot I impulse-bought when I came to see Jared in May of 2003, bought in Omaha or Lincoln. I remember my first shots with that camera were at the zoo. It was a newer model of the same camera Jared had purchased a couple of years before.

As usual, I took Jared’s suggestion of photography-as-hobby and got far too carried away with it without discussing it with him. I’d been lamenting not being able to take photos like my favorite blogger and she had such-and-such camera. He’d had in mind to get me a proper DSLR when we’d had time to research and save up for one.

Instead, I came home with a random Sony NEX-5N one night in November of 2011. It was a mirrorless camera… an impulse purchase one night when I was out shopping by myself. I knew nothing about the camera when I bought it. I am certain I was Sony’s dream market target that night. I likely wasn’t doing at my best, but this was also in the days before we became far more responsible, finance-wise.

I didn’t care about doing research. I loved that the camera was little and it’s output surpassed what I had seen on that blogger’s website, photo-wise. I was smitten from the start.

That little camera served as my documentary tool through years of recovery, through years of some rough and hard living. I learned that research was my friend when it came to photography, and I learned a little bit about the different lenses that were available. I learned my choices were limited with Sony, but that sure didn’t stop me from taking pictures with what I had.

I didn’t part with that little 5N until well into 2015. I’d moved into Fuji as my ecosystem, and I decided a good friend could use with a little of that 5N’s time.

This morning when I woke up, I felt that familiar itch. It was just time to click the shutter, no matter the subject.

Today my cameras are the Fuji X-T2 and X-Pro2, which are stellar and wonderful and I love them far more than I should love any piece of hardware. I came to choose Fuji as my photo ecosystem after months of discussion with Jared and months and months of research and internal debate. I love the fact that my cameras are water-resistant (as are three of my four current lenses). I love the electronic viewfinder– the optical viewfinder of DSLRs always left me feeling unsure as to how the shot would ultimately look out of the camera, though I love the fact that with the X-Pro2 I have an optical finder with an electronic overlay if I am in the mood for an analog-hipster experience. I love the fact that I have been with a system long enough (since December 2014, with the X-T1), that the menu system is second-nature to me. Even though I am not hard on my gear, I love that I can bang around the cameras and I don’t have to worry. And I won’t lie. I love the retro-look of the cameras. Best of all, I love that it has a stellar JPEG engine and if I so choose, especially on personal projects, I don’t have to do any post-processing to get the result I want. I am in love with the ACROS film simulation in my cameras. If I shoot color, I still want to use RAW, for now, since I can’t decide on which color film simulation I like.

Enough droning on about my Fuji’s.

It looks like rain today and it has already rained some this morning, but that fact doesn’t matter if I take out either of those cameras and all but one of my lenses. So, after church, it will be time to explore the yard and figure out what kinds of artsy things I see outside today.

No matter the current model I use, my camera is for sure a therapy tool. I can look at the world and in my mind’s eye, everything can be gray and dull. But then I can pick up the camera, take a few shots of the world as I see it even through that gray and dull mind’s eye, and what comes out of the camera portrays an entirely different kind of feeling to the feeling I experienced as I took the shot.

The clicking of the shutter is important, too…seeing the world still-frame by still-frame reminds me of the fleeting beauty of the world. It changes my mood, too. Seeing the world in still fragments reminds me not to take my life quite so seriously as I tend to do most of the time.

But, back to the finished product… there is something about a decent shot that literally changes the way I remember feeling in whatever mood I was in when I took the shot. When that happens, something shifts in whatever mood trajectory I have been on. It can change, under the right circumstances, my energy level. It doesn’t matter if the picture is in black and white or color. It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is. If I judge the photo to be a keeper, it gives me an endorphin/ adrenaline-like rush that can literally change the course of my day, mood-wise.

My Jared helped me find my life’s favorite pastime. I am forever grateful to him for our life together and for so many things, but this one… Jared may very well have saved my life with that gentle shove toward photography. That is not an exaggerated statement.

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