photography and writingPosted: July 20, 2022
I recently wrote about Barry Lopez’s 1998 book of essays, About This Life. In addition to what you would expect to see from Lopez, writing about nature and the outdoors, he devotes a long essay to the merits of the Boeing 747 jetliner and another to his experience with photography.
Lopez writes that he delved into photography for a while, and in fact he sold several photos. But, he realized, when recalling an encounter with a polar bear:
Remembering what happened in an encounter was crucial to my work as a writer, and attending to my cameras during our time with the bear had altered and shrunk my memory of it. While the polar bear was doing something, I was checking f-stops and attempting to frame and focus from a moving boat…. As a writer, I had begun to feel I was missing critical details in situations such as this one because I was distracted.
I had a similar realization one year when we were at Lake Shasta. I realized I was so focused on getting pictures that I was failing to enjoy the moment I was in. I had a lovely Nikon D70 digital SLR camera with multiple lenses which I then sold off in pieces on eBay. I replaced it with a compact digital camera which served me fine on our Alaska trip in 2011. I wanted to keep something of a hand in photography without being obsessed by it, but that camera simply didn’t feel right in my hands. Right after the Alaska trip I bought a Nikon P500, which has the look and feel of an SLR, but with a fixed lens. It’s the camera I still use today when I want something more than my iPhone can offer.
After my dad’s death in 2020 my brother urged me to take his Sony A230 digital SLR, which I did. I used it some, but the two of us just never hit it off. I’m sticking with my P500 for my “beyond the iPhone” camera needs.
These many years later I feel much the same as I did at Lake Shasta. I am sticking with my writing and I’ll take photos here and there when I feel so moved.