Me and Sam – a journey

Sam the camera came into my life in May 2010 and changed it in ways that I could never have imagined. All I knew was that changing over to digital would mean I could post pictures online without having to wait till I finished a film and got it developed, and my friends would stop laughing at me whenever the subject came up and saying things like: do they still even sell film in the shops? It took me a while, partly because photography was never a big feature in my life so it didn’t seem like a high priority, and partly because I’m a ditherer, I find it really hard to make choices, especially when there are about a zillion different models to choose from. Looking online was just hopeless – far too many possibilities! So in the end I went into a shop and consulted a salesperson and came away with something that does the job just fine, and I named her Sam. (Yes, I name things. It makes it so much more fun – going out for a walk with Sam sounds so much less boring than: I’m going for a walk and I’m taking the camera.) (Oh, and it’s a she. Sam is, in this case, short for Samantha. The Hebrew word for camera is feminine, so in my mind cameras are feminine.)

Photography, like I said, had never been a big feature in my life. It still isn’t, but it is now a feature. It’s something I do for fun – because with a digital camera I can, I don’t have to worry about wasting film. I can play around with it, take shots of just an interesting bit of pavement or wall for no reason other than I thought it was interesting; try out different angles and see how it comes out, just because I’m curious; take photos of silly little things that I see and share them online just for a laugh. Until I got Sam, taking photos was something I did on special occasions, like if I was on holiday for instance, or if it snowed or something. Now it’s something I do whenever – seeing an interesting tree on the way back from the shops, or snapping a yummy dessert before devouring it, or taking a picture of a plant I don’t know and asking people if they know what it is, or – oh yes, now and again I have even taken pictures of fellow humans. :)

What I didn’t expect was that I would discover a new hobby – something I can do just for fun, and enjoy doing. I enjoy it because it’s just a hobby – not something I expect myself to do to high standards, so whatever comes out is fine, it’s just play. I’ve always been a words person, writing is what I expect myself to do well, but visual stuff is not my strong point so there’s no pressure to perform.

The other unexpected side effect has been that it helps me to get out of the house more – it gives me an excuse to go out for a walk, a bit like dogs do. (Though not quite as strong as with a dog that has an urgent need for a lamp post. Sam doesn’t pant and demand to go walkies.) I had no idea that a camera could be an aid in fighting depression, but it has sometimes helped me to just go out and walk around for a bit and look at stuff.

And it gives me an excuse to stop and look at things. It makes me notice more detail in what’s around me. I’m looking at my surroundings differently now. Even when I’m without the camera I’m noticing things more. But without the camera I feel more self-conscious about stopping and looking. This afternoon, coming back from the newsagent, I noticed the sunset, and it was so beautiful I stopped to stand and look – but someone else walked past me and I felt kind of weird. As though once you’re over, I don’t know, ten or something, you’re not supposed to do that any more…

This is what I wrote when I came back:

verbal camera notes

pink, turning red
pretty, I think

a fox crossing the road

a piece of loose fencing
blowing in the wind

a camper van parked
on the side of the road

a can of Coke in the hedge

a cat, black and white

the street lamps have come on now

sky still blue on that side though

and now I’m home

just been out
noticing things.

Questions? Thoughts? Talk to me - I don't bite :)

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