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

Ditching A Plan That No Longer Works

How many times have you made a decision and after investing time and serious money to support your plans, later changed your mind? Did you let go and move on with ease or was it a struggle?

I’ve been wrestling with one that I couldn’t seem to make. For more than three years, I’ve let my indecision suck energy from me and felt loads of remorse over my apathetic attitude towards what I once considered a perfect career.

When I lived in the US, this vision of my future fit well into my business plan for a creative life. I invested in equipment and training designed to cover both the technical and business aspects and paid for quality in both areas.

When I felt ready to deliver a good product, I put myself into situations to prove to myself that this was a good fit. I photographed weddings, PR events, family portraits, and even a red carpet event in Times Square while in New York.

And it was good, for a while.

After a weekend workshop with Denis Reggie, who the New York Times called ” A Storyteller with a Camera,” and who Oprah Winfrey said was ” The Best in the Business, ” I set up my Linked In account and identified myself as the owner of Elizabeth Harper Photographers.

Denis Reggie advised that by using the word photographers instead of photographer or photography, I would leave room to include other photographers who might shoot weddings with me.

During a workshop with Liana Lehman Hall that focused on the business of photography, we did a bit of writing as well and Liana told me that she could see me doing something similar to Jasmine Star, a photographer who incorporates words and story into her blog posts and client images. I knew then that I could write and that I was good at encouraging people to share their stories and after a look at Jasmine Star’s website, I thought it was indeed the kind of thing I had thought of doing to use both skills. The combination seemed as if it might satisfy my desire to write while earning a living as a wedding photographer.

This might have worked had I stayed in Georgia and not met John. Moving to the UK changed many things for me one of which was my desire to work as a wedding photographer. I still love weddings and I enjoy getting the shot that defines the day or a documents a special moment, I’ve just decided that I don’t want to do it for a living.

The rhythm of days spent writing has the strongest pull now and after worrying that I was throwing away money spent on training and camera equipment by not building a career in the UK as a photographer, I decided to end my ambiguity and sell my gear.

My decision to close the door on one career path is an opportunity for someone else who may have been dreaming of something as big as a new direction, or just adding more equipment to their camera bag.

Here are few images from some of the weddings I’ve photographed along with two of a mother and child.

    

 

 

Now that I’ve made peace with redefining how I see myself, I’ll be heading over to “Linked In” to change how the Linked In community sees me.

I’ve contacted a business in the UK that is well-regarded for buying and selling used photography equipment and they’ve given me a quote. As is the way with companies like this one, the price is a good bit lower than can be gained by selling it myself.

Before I decide to sell it on Ebay or Amazon or make use of the company I contacted, I wanted to share it here. I am including a list of the items in case any of my readers wish to add to their gear.

Please consider forwarding this post on to anyone you know who might be interested in well cared for camera equipment.

(2) Nikon D200 Bodies
Nikon Lens ED AF-S VR-NIKKOr 70-200 2.8,
Nikon Lens AF 50 1.4,
Nikon DX AF-S NIKKOR 18-200 3.5-5.6 ED,
Nikon DX ED Fisheye,
Nikon DX AF-S 17-55 2.8 G ED
(2) Nikon Speedlights SB-600,
Nikon Speedlight SB-800
Manfrotto 3021BPRO
Manfrotto Head 3265
Quantum Turbo 2×2 Battery Pack,
4 camera batteries
1 Extreme IV Sandisk 8.0GB
1 Extreme IV Sandisk 4.0GB
(3) 4.0 Sandisk
(2) Sandisk Ultra II 1.0GB
(2) Sandisk 1.0 GB
1 Sandisk Ultra II 2.0 GB
Never Used
UV 77mm Crystal Optics Filter
C PL 77mm Crystal Optics Filter
DIgital Circular PLD 77mm
USED
Quantaray 72mm C-PL
Quantaray 77mm QMC-UV
FLD 77mm Crystal Optics

I’m happy to provide photos of the items and answer any questions. Thanks for helping me move on and I hope this ending is a new beginning for you or someone you know.