“Being a photographer is not a state of equipment, but a state of mind.”
(Originally written June 10, 2012)
I had jury duty last week, and as such, I wasn’t allowed to bring a camera or any other electronic equipment with me to the courthouse (so unfortunately no photos for this post). But boy was I itching for camera when lunch break hit. Warm days amongst the hubbub of Chinatown and perfect photogenic opportunities all around. No wonder why so many other photographers with varying types of cameras were out and about. I even felt the urge to ask if I could borrow one of those cameras from a photographer and just take a shot to cure my fix.
What I realized, however, in the absence of my equipment is that I still saw moments upon moments of photographic opportunities within my brief one-hour lunch break. Now this isn’t new for me, but this time it got me pondering the definition of being a photographer; that being a photographer is not a state of equipment, but a state of mind.
Deep down I’m a gear geek. I read Dpreview.com, PDN Magazine, and watch DigitalRev.com and dream that if I had all the money in the world I would be buying top of the line gear. Yet through all of my observations, even people with most decked out equipment cannot always achieve good photographic sense. And this doesn’t just apply to photography, but to every medium, every art form. That what makes person a person isn’t the contents what they own, but the perspective and vision that they can use to define who they are. For photography, that means possessing the vision of seeing the light and angles that can be captured with any camera but with a disciplined state of mind to formulate and present an idea.
So in this period of technological absence I went back to the basics, curled my hand, and made myself my camera. I probably got a couple of odd looks, but plenty of people do it when picturing themselves at exotic locations. It’s at this moment I realized that I am still a photographer because of the level of observance of the world around, the patience to wait for the angles to align, and the mind to understand and capture the stories that appear before me within the creviouses of my memories.