I think I've mentioned this before, maybe not here on my dA journal but definitely in IMs to various people.
Back when I only had the Sony Cybershot DSC-P71 - a basic digital P&C if ever there was one - I was constantly urged by friends to upgrade, get a new camera, something with detachable lenses, y'know? On the one hand, I would have liked to. Just because it would have opened up so many new opportunities, and allowed me to create (arrange, capture, whatever) so many new scenes.
But on the other hand, my natural stubbornness said "no". Part of my reluctance to upgrade was the challenge inherent in using a shitty camera - or more precisely, the challenge of trying to get good pictures out of it.
I think I did pretty well, back then, considering that I was treating
it as a P&C - I wasn't even trying to use any of its 'modes'. Also considering the fact that I dropped it on rocks, and then it fell into the ocean, and it still worked with sand inside it. (It makes a crunching noise now when you turn it on and the lens extends.
When my brother upgraded to a Canon EOS 5D in November 2005, he asked if I wanted to buy his old Kiss Rebel from him at a largely discounted price, coming as it did with an extra lens and a bag, and in fairly good condition. I thought it was a pretty good bargain, so spent the next couple of months paying him off.
Part of the aforementioned challenge was wiped out, right there. Despite how terrifying, at first, the 300D's controls were to me (having just come from a single-button camera), I eventually got the hang of at least some of them - and it could do so much more than my old camera. I didn't think about it much at the time.
On my recent trip to the UK, I bought a telephoto lens. For all those times when you might see, y'know, a penguin on the horizon. I'm in love with it - it's like a bloody telescope, and was good for just sightseeing, never mind taking photos.
But today, sitting here and thinking about the new camera and new lens, I feel a bit like a whore. I sold out for the joy of pressing buttons and hearing clicky noises and 'being a better photographer'.
I don't know if any of you will understand, but while I owned the DSC-P71, I grew to understand and love the conceptual, emotional, human
side of photography much more deeply than someone with fancy buttons and flashes could probably ever do. Because when you've nothing but a single button with which to contend, the camera is what it should only ever be - a window. And you spend much more time looking at and actually experiencing whatever it is you're shooting, instead of wondering about how to frame it, or the lighting conditions, or focus, etc.
In short, I think photographers neglect to LIVE, sometimes. The camera is a tool. It's a means of sharing a minute fraction of what you see with other people. Don't forget to turn it off, though, and simply enjoy what's there for you to experience with ALL of your senses, not just your sight.
Don't spend too much time behind the lens. The naked eye can see, and the human mind can store forever, what a camera can sometimes not even grasp. There will come a time when your sight fails, and cameras will be of no use to you, and by that time you will not be able to simply SEE, and luxuriate in that seeing, any more.
***I will never know myself until I do this on my own
And I will never feel anything else, until my wounds are healed
I will never be anything till I break away from me
I will break away, I'll find myself today...
-- Linkin Park, "Somewhere I Belong"
So use your senses while you can, before age dulls their keenness, and don't let the world slip away in freeze frames and pixels and film.