I traveled to Paris a few years ago, where I took some truly amazing pictures using a pocket camera. Last year, an acquaintance of mine who is an amateur photographer heard about these photos, and encouraged me accordingly. “Forget writing,” she said. “You should really be a photographer.”
I was younger and stupider back then, so I suited up for my new creative pursuit by buying a Canon 50D digital SLR camera. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, be assured it means very little to me either. For the months that followed, I ventured out with the Canon strapped around my neck trying to prove I was a photographer. But the more I tried to take incredible photos, the lousier they were. People seemed much more impressed with the camera than my photographs. That’s because I wasn’t taking many.
Still, romantic images of me as a photographer lingered in my mind. I dutifully carted the camera wherever I went, trekking it through airports on at least a half dozen trips. The longer I carried it, however, the heavier it grew. And try as I might, I could not muster any interest in learning how to really use the sophisticated camera or its software. In a matter of months, I came to view it as a noose around my neck; it was strangling me.
After not using the camera on an entire trip through the Rocky Mountains, the truth began to dawn on me. The beauty of my Paris photos had much more to do with how I felt about the subject matter (it was Paris), than with any special interest in photography. I didn’t have any passion for cameras, lenses, or accessories. I simply liked taking pictures. So I sold the camera I had owned for less than a year. And in doing so, I realized that we so often cling to unwanted things and old ideas out of habit or obligation when the wisest, most productive choice is to just let go.
Since selling the camera, I have experienced an explosion of creativity. While I can’t say that selling the camera caused this creative surge, I can say that after selling it, I felt 500 pounds lighter. And after recently taking dozens of terrific photographs of my three young nephews with a pocket camera, I can definitely say that I have reclaimed the simple joy of taking pictures.