Image or Experience?

When I started out in photography and for many years after I just had one camera at a time. First I had a cruddy old 127 roll film compact, then a 35 mm rangefinder, and finally a Nikon film SLR. During this time I was obviously shooting film of some sort and didn’t travel all that much – especially by air. So there wasn’t a decision to be made about which camera to take along.

As time went by, my SLR kit got bigger and heavier to the point where I was toting along a camera body, 4 lenses and a flash in a good sized bag. It was getting ridiculous. Aside from the heavy kit, there was also the risk of theft in vacation destinations. Also, the airlines were getting skimpier about the amount of baggage you could carry on.

Well, I went digital finally. And aside from the fact that I didn’t need film any longer, I got the choice of the type of camera to bring along. I still have a DSLR and a bunch of lenses. But I also have a nice little travel camera. A lot of folks don’t bother with either and just use a smartphone.

It comes down to the choice of concentration – image or experience. On a vacation, the emphasis is on experience. You don’t want to mess that up by hauling a heavy kit around, worrying about somebody stealing it or getting it ruined by salt water and sand.

On the other hand, when you are asked to take photos of a child’s once in a lifetime event, you want to concentrate on the image.

I am pretty sure my great-great uncle concentrated on the image at my mother’s baptism 100 years ago.

So I did the same 100 years later.

The photographer isn’t having the experience here. The child is. So the photographer should concentrate on the image and do the best possible to get that right.

In my case, that means bringing the Nikon and its lenses plus a big flash. Might not need all the lenses but you never know. The flash comes in handy for family photos – it eliminates red-eye and shadows.

These are snapshots, not posed portraits but I still wanted to concentrate on the images as best I could.

There were about 30 people taking photos at the church after the First Communion. Of those, I was probably the only one with a big DSLR. Everybody else used smartphones. Maria thought I was nuts to bring all that equipment. But I hope 100 years from now somebody will appreciate the fact that I concentrated on the image.



Published by Ray MacDonald

Ray MacDonald is a retired food scientist who lives in Almonte, ON.
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