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

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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