Lazy is such a negative word. I wouldn’t say I shun the work, more like I pick my focus. Lethargic just seem so much more forgiving. It would seem I’ve become abstracted about photography. This was brought sharply into focus when I handed my camera to Laura and asked her to take a few shots of the crew at the store for upcoming ads I was creating.
I came from the days of film and darkrooms, Kodachrome vs. Ektachrome. For six years, everywhere I lived around the globe, one of the first improvements made to every home was the addition of a darkroom. Luckily we lived in palatial houses reserved for ex-pats so there was no shortage of bathrooms to convert to the workspaces. We hoarded film in the fridge like precious caviar and purchased huge quantities when we visited the States or Singapore. Getting it processed was often difficult and many precious rolls returned blank, images lost forever.
Our friends all had elaborate photographic equipment as well. It was relatively inexpensive in Asia and many carried cameras home to sell or give to relatives, allowing for constant upgrades of their own arsenal. Maybe because we were so far from our birthplaces, and the end product was so unpredictable and expensive, we took time and care with every shot, we studied the mechanics of the light. I can’t tell you how many light meters I owned. Through-The-Lens metering was in its infancy and the technology was delicate. Travel is tough on delicate equipment. Yet, when I look back through the “lens” of the slides and prints I made back then, I realize I’ve grown so lazy.
Photography is Laura’s art and career. Her equipment is impressive and the results stunning. Though everyone gets a great shot with a phone every once in while, Laura creates beautiful images consistently. So when I handed her the equivalent of a digital 35mm point-and-shoot, she stumbled. She asked simple enough questions in a language I used to speak, “manually setting the aperture or shutter speed?” I couldn’t answer. I have turned off all that knowledge since stepping into the land of digital. Shooting wantonly, viewing instantly and having editing power at my fingertips versus loading a roll of 24 shots into the camera, unloading and processing a contact sheet so I can decide what to print. This has made me so an indolent photographer.
My Nikon has lots of settings. It can do everything Laura was asking. I have no idea how to do it, what buttons to push and dials to turn. The dog-eared manual is battered, not from overuse, but from the many changes in camera bags over the years. The camera is trustworthy and bomb-proof and with enough shots to choose from and the quick fixes on the computer. I am not dissatisfied enough with my work to make the effort to learn how to do these things again in this lifetime.
I hope I still at least have the eye…