Now don’t get me wrong, I love my newest camera. I purchased a Nikon D7000 a few months ago, and I’m having a lot of fun playing with it (although it will do so many things that I’m often afraid I’ll try to finesse the settings too much and miss a shot that I’d have had more easily with my D40x)!
It’s a great camera.
But the photograph that I like the best out of the hundreds I’ve taken over the past few weeks was taken with my iPhone, at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Belchertown, MA.
I had my best camera with me that evening, and my camera bag was loaded with a couple of extra lenses, a flash for the hot-shoe, extra memory cards, filters, batteries, and all sorts of other detritus. I even used it extensively that night, as I took a photograph of every luminaria individually, for a project I had in mind.
But as I walked the track in the rapidly fading light, the luminaria were being lit, my emotions were stirred by these individual memories and tributes forming a ring of light around the track, and I just had to share it. So I pulled out my iPhone to take a quick snapshot to post on Facebook.
The first couple of photos that I took just didn’t make the grade. They just didn’t convey any of the feeling that was in the air on that night that celebrates life while remembering and honoring those who have succumbed to this disease.
I thought about it as we made another lap around the track, and as we rounded the corner, I asked my girlfriend Christine to keep people from trampling me as I lay down on the asphalt. I quickly composed my shot, hit the little button on the phone, and rose to continue walking.
I was more than pleased with the result.
This is miles from being a great photograph in the technical sense of the word. It was taken with the iPhone’s 5 megapixel camera, which is a wonderful camera for a cell phone. But given that it was taken in the dark without the use of the built in LED flash, it pushes the camera to hold the “shutter” open for too long for it to be exceptionally sharp. It also breaks one of the basic rules of photography, in that the “line” of the photo draws your eye out of the frame.
However, in terms of visual impact, I think it’s great, and I’ve had many positive comments on it.
It’s especially powerful when you know a little bit about the event that inspired the picture, and when you realize that every one of those objects is in tribute to a person who has inspired someone, either to change their own life or to take on the responsibility of community in supporting cancer survivors, or perhaps in educating others about this disease.
There were also many many cancer survivors in attendance that evening, including many people I know personally that I had no idea struggled with this disease. (For more on “invisible illnesses”, check out Christine’s blog here!)
In any event, the point is that it’s better to take a photo with what you have than to miss the opportunity by waiting and planning and procrastinating. The phrase that fits comes from photographer Chase Jarvis…”The best camera is the one you have with you!” Don’t get hung up on how much a camera costs, or what the megapixel count is, or whether it’s a Nikon or Canon, or was purchased at a flea market. Use what you have. The memories you create today will fill your heart in the years to come.