“Any camera is fine. It is only the means of taking a photo.” – Daido Moriyama
Recently I went on a trip to South Korea to visit friends I hadn’t seen in years. I was excited to go as I had never been to Asia before, but more than that I was excited at all the potential photos I would encounter since everything would be new to me. I imagined myself coming back with an aesthetic visual diary of my time there, possibly enough to make a small photo book.
Only problem was that I no longer owned a camera.
My trusty Minolta Hi-Matic AF 2 had been stolen from my car a couple of weeks before my trip by my local neighborhood gang.(Sometimes I optimistically imagine that whoever stole it got into photography and as a result out of life of crime – but that’s besides the point.) As I was already operating on a shoe string budget, I couldn’t really afford another camera and I didn’t want to run the risk of buying a used goodwill film camera that potentially would not work once I was over there.
Luckily my friend was also into photography and told me he would lend me his Olympus Infinity Stylus for the duration of my trip. Problem solved right? Well when I got there it turned out that the battery was dying and which made the response slow.
Now when I said shoe string budget what I really mean is I was broke as hell. Buying a new battery was simply not in the budget and so I had to make due with it during the trip – slow response time and all. This led to me being wary of when to take a photo because of the dying battery. In my head I had to justify what was worthy of a photo and what wasn’t.
After a while this led to a sort of a photo paralysis. I would only take a photo if I thought it was “a keeper” but it made the process of photo taking became too calculated and not fun. What ended up happening is that I found myself more and more taking pictures with my phone since there was “less pressure” in taking photos with my iphone.
Since I didn’t feel a pressure to get only good photos with my cellphone it allowed me to just focus on taking pictures of what interested me and not think about whether it was “worthy” of being photographed. It made it easier to just explore Seoul and take pictures of the in between.
They say that the best camera is the one that’s with you, and after this trip I agree. It doesn’t matter what gear you are using because at the end of the day whatever you capture is your own unique vision. It’s your own window of what you see in the world (or want the world to see). The tool doesn’t matter as much as the person behind it. Sometimes you might even find that using a camera that maybe isn’t as good opens up your creativity and so will make for better images.
Personally, I found using my cellphone made things easier because I didn’t have to place the camera directly on my eye in order to shoot a photo, it lessened the importance of each shot so that it made for more photo opportunities, and it was easy to access since I always had my phone on me.
So don’t let not having the “perfect camera” stop you from going out and creating images! Just get out there and do it whether its with your phone, a disposable camera or a small digital point and shoot – just do it.
Photos from Seoul
If you’re curious about the intro quote, here is video of iconic Japanese Photographer Daido Moriyama on how perfection is not always best in photography. (Apparently he has never bought his own camera but rather used ones people have given him)