Trading adventure for beautiful photo ops? I know, I must be crazy. I drove across the country for 2 1/2 months and I didn’t take my DSLR. This wasn’t an accident – I actually thought a lot about this tough decision of camera-less traveling.
I was a professional photographer for 5 years and the first form of art I fell in love with was landscape photography. I remember buying my first camera. I saved for so long and I finally had enough money to buy my own–a Canon point and shoot. I was on a family camping trip in Colorado when I was 12 and the Rockies were so magnificent I couldn’t wait any longer; I purchased my first camera at the Sam’s Club in Denver. And for the next decade, I always had it on me.
People were shocked I wasn’t taking my DSLR on a cross-country road trip. I was on my way to some of the wonders of the world camera-less. Having heard my history, you, too may be wondering what drove me to this seemingly bad decision (you wouldn’t be alone).
Briefly, here’s why: I wanted to experience my trip.
Though photography is a form of magic that allows for moments to be frozen, for me, it can also pull me out of the very moment I’m trying to capture. Instead of getting lost in the moment of vaulting myself up the rocky waterfall, I’m more worried about capturing the the ferocious grace with which that water falls. And, if I’m being really honest, I felt the pressure of producing stunning photographs for others to enjoy. I knew I wouldn’t be able to let myself be immersed in the adventure if I was worried about getting an iconic shot for my Instagram feed or friends who were following our road trip virtually.
I was also thinking about the issue of space. Every square inch counted since we were living in our car. And the issue of lugging around a camera plus several lenses in my camera bag wasn’t an option. Adding five pounds to your pack is a big decision when you’re facing down a mountain or even just a day of walking around a city.
To some, these can be minor inconveniences if you really want to have your camera. I spent ten days walking around Israel/Palestine with a backpack and a camera and didn’t mind the inconvenience because the benefit outweighed the heavy lifting.
In the end, these were my deciding factors of going camera-less:
- These were places that were well-documented and my DSLR, though nice, wasn’t going to get a better shot than a National Geographic grade camera set-up on a tripod with many opportunities to get that perfect shot.
- I was bringing my phone and as much as I want to highbrow it and say phones will never replace cameras, I have to concede that sometimes a phone picture is more than fine and way more convenient.
- I didn’t want to be weighed down–figuratively and literally. I wanted to feel the freedom of simply enjoying the sunrise over the Grand Canyon as well as the hike up a deserted beach on the Oregon coast. No worries. No pressure.
- I imagined I would be back to most of these places eventually and if I really hated not having a camera, I could come back with one later.
In the end, I didn’t hate going camera-less. I loved it.
I will admit that I do want to take trips back to specific places we visited with the intention of capturing photographs. But these won’t be rushed tourist-pressured photographs. These will be meditative, intentional. I can’t wait to take my next adventure and I wonder, will I take my camera?
Written for Nowak Tours by Guest Blogger, Caylie Mindling.