I used to take a lot of pictures.
When I was single, and in the days of marriage before kids, my camera (a 35mm SLR for those old enough to remember pre-digital days!) was a regular companion. I delighted in nature photography, often using slide film (farewell, Kodachrome!). Did some experimentation with black-and-white, and some macro stuff. It was a hobby, a creative outlet, and what developed was “the eye” – I’d always walk around thinking about how some scene would be composed as a photograph. I’d look for pictures.
All that changed once the realities of career and children set in.
Sure, I would now take pictures of the kids, and, on trips away, the creative urge might re-awaken. But by-and-large, the impulse to see and create photographs was submerged. I missed the outlet, but I was immersed in other, demanding priorities.
My cameras mostly languished, little-used, as the creative drive was temporarily replaced by functional picture-taking. And my ventures into video ended up the same way – it was a lot of work to bring equipment, set it up, download and edit, etc., and usage was mainly functional.
When digital photography came on the scene, the remarkable immediacy and ease of use help bring about a brief re-awakening. I remember well the day after the birth of our last son over 7 years ago, when a glorious morning led to a flurry of lovely pictures in the scenic lakeside area that is between our house and the hospital. Nonetheless, the demands of life kept the creative fires burning low, and the quality of digital cameras still had a ways to go – especially as cell phones began to make picture-taking and sharing drop-dead simple.
Fast forward to spring 2008. A first generation iPhone in hand, I began to fall back in love with taking pictures. It was all-in-one, it was convenient and sharable, it had crossed the threshold of easy. Most of my pictures we were more on the level of friends-and-family, however – quick shots to share. Because the quality was good but not exceptional, and there was no ability to focus. The camera did not inspire an artistic and creative sensibility.
For all of the many new and improved capabilities in the device, the most surprising effect, for me, has been a burst of photographic creativity. The camera is now higher quality, and allows focusing and close-up shots in an astonishingly simple interface. It now allows video capture, again with great simplicity and pretty good quality. And best of all, I now suddenly find myself walking around with “the eye” engaged, not on rare occasion, but every day and everywhere. Because I can compose quality pictures (and video) using an always-ready device, edit and share with ease and immediacy, and now I’m back to viewing the world the way I used to when I was a young buck with his Nikon.
I’m seeing pictures again. Eye and mind and heart are re-awakening to the world around me, which can be captured and viewed with a creative impulse unhindered by preparation and process. I get up in the morning, and often wander out in the yard, iPhone in hand, wondering again at dewdrops and flower buds, at shapes and sun and shadow. It’s not just an increase in technical capabilities. It’s a boost in happiness.
I knew I was getting a better iPhone. But I didn’t anticipate getting back something very important that had gone drowsy. A reawakening of creativity.