Defining Moments – Giving Up The Gold

Defining Moments

Having found a box and bought packing supplies, I found it slightly ironic that when I began to pack up most of my photography equipment to send off to sell, ‘Defining Moments,’ were the words that came to mind.

Perhaps it was a subtle whisper from the ghost of Alfred Eisenstadet.

While not a picture perfect moment, it was a defining one for me. I’ve been holding on to an idea of who I am that no longer fits me. I wrote about this in detail a few weeks ago when I gave you a look at some of the images from weddings I’ve photographed in the past.

Wedding photography as a career no longer suits my lifestyle. That doesn’t mean leaving it behind is painless and it’s about more than the just the idea of losing money on expensive equipment.

I love the energy of a wedding day shoot and the private access it gives me to the stories of the people involved. There’s a thrill that comes from knowing you have an almost open invitation to discreetly document the moments they might not remember until later when they see your work.

I may miss the excitement of wedding day drama, but the business side of it leaves me cold and life passes too quickly to waste time doing things that don’t give back enough to support your passion. I always hated when potential clients wanted haggle over my fees as if we were at the corner market buying and selling fruit. It felt demeaning to us both.

As I was going through my camera gear making decisions about what needed to go, I had everything laid out on a low table in our living room and could see just how much I’d invested over the years. I mentally added up the cost of certain pieces as I picked up a camera with my favorite lens still attached, but it was the weighty feel of it in my hands rather than the money that made me pause as I considered how once it was gone, I was unlikely to ever hold one so substantial again.

I took off the lens cap and looked through the viewfinder and had a serious heart pang at the thought of letting it all go. It’s a lot of money I thought, maybe I should just hang on to this one camera and lens, maybe I could use it for …

After loads of internal dialogue, I replayed the logical reasons why I didn’t need this equipment if I wasn’t doing professional work, but it was the memory of a story I’d heard that reassured me that I was doing the right thing by selling it all now.

Hoarding Your Gold

Most of us have things like this in our lives, they hang around taking up space long after we’ve moved on. I told John that seeing the money-making tools my photography life laid out for me to touch felt a bit like the story of the miser who kept his gold under the floorboards of his house. I can’t remember the details, but what came to mind was the image of the miser up late at night when everyone was asleep, taking out his gold and counting it while admiring its beauty and imagining all the things he could buy with his fortune.

The problem was he never spent it, never shared it, and died with it still hidden under floor.

My camera equipment has been like that for a while … safely tucked away, but not being used. While it was here, there was room for ambiguity about the future, at least with regard to one area of my life. Giving up ‘my gold’ may seem like I’m closing a door on photography, but I’ve got another idea more suited to the life I’m constantly creating.

I’ve been using a camera for over forty years and that’s not going to change. I like shooting on the fly so my gear will likely stay small from now on. It’s funny to see echos of my current style in this playground snap taken when I was ten. It’s one of the few pictures I still have taken with my first camera.

I do love the action shot!

Speaking of action shots, I took this one a few minutes ago. With the exception of a few items, that’s my professional photo life all wrapped up tight and tidy in a box … next stop MPB Photographic. Here’s hoping someone out there finds a good use for my gear.

I’ve still got what I need for now.

“The camera doesn’t make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to SEE “

Ernst Haas

Calling All Photographers – A Question For You

Decisions, Decisions, Which Way To Go

This morning I left the comment below over at Chookooloonks, after reading about Karen Walrond’s big love for Nikon.

I’ve been asked a few times in the past about what I shoot with and thought this might be a good time to share that info and ask my readers for a little help as I try to decide what type of point and shoot I should buy to replace my Canon G9 which goes everywhere with me now. My abbreviated camera history can be found below. Remember it’s information I wrote in a comment this morning so it may seem a bit different that my usual posts and to make it more interesting, I’m including a few examples of photographs taken with my two favorite cameras. There are a few shots using my Nikon D200 here and almost everything on this site in the last year has been taken with my Canon G9 including the image above.

My comment to Karen -

” I know what you mean about choosing a camera, I’ve been shooting for years, and have had several important cameras, beginning with a Mamiya medium format which I bought while in the army and stationed in Germany and later traded at a camera shop in California for a Minolta SLR and a couple of lenses. After college, I found myself busy with a baby and a quickly changing life complete with all the baby things one tends to haul around each day so I went with a series of small point and shoots that were so nondescript that I can’t even remember them. Around 2000 or 2001, I was introduced to digital and that was it for me with regard to film. Eventually I went back to SLR’s and photography with an eye and intention on getting the best possible photograph. After doing loads of research that came down as it did with you, between Nikon and Canon, I went with Nikon. I have two Nikon D200′s and more nice glass than I probably deserve, but I’m afraid I tend to use my Canon G9 on a daily basis due to its size and abilities. It’s a bit of a struggle to carry my Nikon gear with me when hiking the coast path here in Cornwall or to carry it 105 miles through the Alps on the Tour of Mont Blanc, but as we make ready for our next big trip (Two months in New Zealand) I am looking towards Nikon for a new point and shoot to suit my needs.

I should add that many times since moving to England I have left what I consider my ” best gear ” behind because it seemed too much to carry and I’ve had some regrets. Later this fall when my sister is here, we’ll be headed to Paris which is one of my favorite places to photograph and I’m taking my Nikon D200 and some good glass this time even if there’s no room for clothes.

I’m off now to have another look at what the latest offerings are for top quality Nikon point & shoots, I have to say that I’m not convinced there are any that can pass the test for me as well as Canon or perhaps something else, but I’m open to any suggestions or street talk regarding your experience. I pay as much attention to the reviews of those already using the camera equipment I’m considering as I do the specs so please share what you know “

So there it is … help me out if you can, what’s the buzz out there in your photo community … any suggestions?

What Remains The Same

Elizabeth Harper – Athens, Greece – Summer 1981

Yes … that’s me. This image came from an old slide from my army days, one of many that I’ve been moving from place to place for years. With twenty-one just around the corner, this younger, thinner version of me thought she knew a few things about life and while I’d had some experiences by then that most of my friends from high school had not, like breaking down an M-16 rifle in the dark, or leaving home at eighteen for my first military assignment in Germany, I was clearly not rocking the world with my fashion sense.

I mean, really …what was I thinking with that tight curly perm and if that wasn’t bad enough, how in the world did I think it was okay to go out in public wearing those cutoff short shorts! That sock-less running shoe look while not pretty kept me from getting blisters when I ran my first marathon in those bright yellow Nikes and I was still wearing Nikes twenty-six years later when I ran my second one.

These days, I wear my shorts a good bit longer and I ditched the perms twenty years ago, but check out that camera I have hanging around my neck … most of us change a great many things through the years such as behaviors that are no longer useful, bad hair styles, career choices, and sometimes husbands and partners, but there are some parts of us that are with us for the duration and central to the core of who we are no matter where we’re standing or what direction we may be looking.

I bet you don’t need three guesses to know what remains constant for me. It’s there in almost every photograph whether it’s around my neck, hanging off my shoulder, or in my hand, a camera of some kind is always with me and while not exactly a fashion accessory, it appears now it is has become a necessory item for completing my look. How about you, is there something about you that people have come to expect will be there, always the same whenever they see you?

Elizabeth Harper – Cornwall, England – Summer 2008

Primroses & Powershots

I thought I’d show you a little of what goes on behind the scenes here at Gifts Of The Journey and I need to say now…it isn’t always pretty. I’m almost never without a camera of some kind. It could be my iPhone or my Nikon D200, but more often than not it’s my Canon Powershot G9. Last week, I was running through the churchyard on my way to what I refer to as the buttercup field, when I was overwhelmed by a carpet of flowers that seemed to have popped out almost overnight. There were primroses everywhere I looked blanketing the ground like a patchwork quilt. I had my iPhone with me, but I wanted to get a higher quality picture so I went on with my run, but cut it a bit short to get back to the house to pick up my Canon. It was a perfect weather day, but given how it can be sunny one minute and dark and rainy the next, I didn’t want to take any chances and I barely paused as I told John what I was up to while running in and out for the camera. He said he would walk down and join me in a few minutes and showed up a little later with his own camera.  Here’s a bit of what he captured of me that day along with the bottom three which are my images. 

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I didn’t realize until later that I had been so excited about getting the photographs that I wanted that I’d forgotten to take out my earphones even though I wasn’t listening to music. See below…

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Remember what I said about it’s not always pretty….well here goes..

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Would you like to see what I was trying to get a decent shot of back in the shadows?

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I think it’s one of the oldest gravestones in the churchyard, but I don’t have info on it yet.  

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These are two more of my photos from that morning…

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This churchyard is one of my favorites in Cornwall and much to my surprise, there  are a few Harpers buried there. No relation I’m sure, but interesting to see my name among the gravestones.

Everyone’s A Wedding Photographer

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My handsome husband was a bit put off by the idea of hiring a wedding photographer for our ceremony two weeks ago.  It seems the idea of having a professional wedding photographer to capture the best moments of our day made him uneasy. I think he thought having someone with pro equipment snapping and flashing in his direction might make him more the center of attention than the title of bridegroom already conferred. Now for anyone who’s been to my old site at http://www.giftsofthejourney.com you may have noticed that I’ve photographed a few weddings myself. It’s one of the ways I earned my living in America and something I’ll be doing here as soon as I am approved for work by immigration.

Let me show you what happens when you tell a woman who photographs other people’s weddings that we’ll skip that part of the wedding planning and just let our guests snap a few of us instead. Actually, I think I did pretty good job of letting go of my camera for the day….well almost.

Bride Grabs Camera On Wedding Day

Bride Grabs Camera On Wedding Day

I’ve been very fortunate to marry into a family of women who know how capture a good moment and with this many shutters snapping, you’ve got a good chance of getting something that works.  John’s idea though…the one where no pro photographer equals no posing for a bunch of photographs… well, toss that idea right out the window.  

Winchurch Women Turn Paparazzi (Photo by T.R. Cross)

Winchurch Women Turn Paparazzi (Photo by T.R. Cross)

Almost everyone came with a camera of some kind. John’s younger daughter was gracious enough to take control of some of my gear and she used my Nikon D200 like a pro.

Handling It

Handling It

Here’s some of her work.

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John Winchurch & Elizabeth Harper 2-2-09

I have to thank Tina (T.R. Cross)  for her work as well.  She did a great job with my Canon Powershot G9 and a couple of other cameras that she happened to be handed from time to time.

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Here are a few more photographers pressed into action for the day including John’s firstborn who appears to be taking tips from Tina, but is quite handy on her own with a camera. The rest and there were more… seemed to have escaped being photographed with a camera in their hand.

Our Youngest Photographer

Our Youngest Photographer (Age 4)

 

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Some mixed images from that day.

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This is John’s grandmother’s knife that he saved from his dad’s tool chest years ago where he’d been using it to open paint cans. John rescued it and cleaned it up and has been using it on a daily basis ever since. It seemed appropriate to me to use a knife with so many years of history to slice in our wedding cake and add a bit more memories to the old blade.

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Last one…signing the registry book of weddings.

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