Trav bought a camera before our trip to Alaska. Nevermind that my husband, the love of my life, my partner in all things, bought a Canon, of all cameras he could buy – I have a Nikon tattooed on myself, I don’t have his name tattooed anywhere, that is how serious I am about Nikons, this outrage is also a joke – but man, it had been a while since I was traveling with someone else with a camera. Years, in fact.
It made me think about taking photographs, which is to say that it made me think about how I don’t really think about taking photographs anymore. Sure, I think about adjusting my ISO from a club to a baseball game in the sunshine, from shutter priority to full manual, about my white balance settings, but I don’t think about … taking the pictures, if that makes sense. The actual mental action of seeking, framing, accomplishing a shot is on autofocus for me, most of the time. I know my own style. I know what images I want to make. I manipulate the technical side to get what I want, but for the most part, I’m not experimenting with the end result.
And Trav having a camera, standing next to someone trying to find his eye, made me realize that this is both a good and a bad thing.I cracked myself up because about three days in, I realized I’d spouted most of the clichés that were spouted at me when I started shooting: the best zoom lens is your feet. Think about it from different angles, literally physically different angles. (“I have no dignity left, I’ve already laid down on the floor of a museum twice today.”) But it also made me think more carefully about the shots I was taking. Why that shot? Why that angle? Why that subject?
I hadn’t asked myself why about my photography in a very, very long time.
I made better photos in Alaska because I asked myself why.
I hadn’t thought about why the things I was interested in documenting were interesting to me in a very, very long time.
I made better photos in Alaska because I interrogated why I’m interested in the tiny details, the letter slots, capturing the texture of the moss exactly, the right angle to a sunset. I thought about shadows, and clouds, and the way the light breaks over moving water.
One of my favorite things about getting home was comparing our photos; not in quality, as I have years more experience than Trav, but in seeing the way we both viewed the same subjects. We stood next to each other and saw the same things but viewed them, in terms of recording them into an image, in a totally different way.
It makes me value my relationship with Trav. It makes me value the world. It makes me value my relationship with the world. It makes me value our relationship with the world. And it makes me value all the things over the years that photography has given me.