A Picture May be Worth 1000 Words…

This is going to be an odd post for a photographer’s blog, but here goes…

Once long ago, in the days when thin plastic strips coated with photosensitive chemicals were loaded into manual focus cameras, when you had to take 36 pictures before you could go to the lab with your little yellow canister and trust that you would see your prints a week later, I carried my Nikon EM and Nikon EL-2 everywhere. I took them to lands near and far, always looking whatever I could find to photograph. Nothing seemed to be safe from being captured on film – Landmarks like Gateway Arch in St. Louis, flower fields near home, and even weird stuff like a chef throwing a chicken in a restaurant. National Parks, trains coming through San Luis Obispo – even the Starship Enterprise was captured by my lens. The world looked great in 3×5 inch prints.

Then the unthinkable happened: My two cameras and all of my lenses were stolen. This was crushing. I didn’t replace the cameras, and for a couple of years I took no photos at all. But then I noticed something. As I traveled about without a camera I started seeing – well – more. Yosemite wasn’t seen at through a quarter-inch viewfinder, now I was standing there and taking it ALL in. No longer was it a stop at Tunnel View (or wherever) to get in the best place for a photo, take the shot, then move on. It’s not that I didn’t notice the grand surroundings before, but somehow the experience was different now.

And so when, after being camera-free for years, I got my first digital camera I was determined to not just look for photos, but to just LOOK. I made it a point to leave the camera in the bag a bit more to just experience the place. Do I miss my camera-free days? Not at all. I love taking photographs. Did I learn something by not having one? You bet!

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but being there, looking and listening and smelling your surroundings, is definitely worth one thousand pictures.

Until next time…

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