It’s less than a month until I leave these shores for the first of the two ‘big trips’ I’m going to undertake this year. And of all the questions in my head right now, this one sounds the simplest:
“Which camera should I take?”
But this post will not deal with the ins and outs of camera equipment selection. (That’s for another post, which non-geeks will be able to happily skip over.) No. As I sat down to write, I realised that this question in fact drills to the core of my motivation for continuing to journey, explore, adventure, or whatever verb you may wish to attach to what I do.
I’d boiled it down to two options:
Option 1: The minimalist, purist, ascetic, introspective, self-development approach
Because of this, I won’t be able to see my pictures until days or weeks after shooting them. Every click of the shutter will echo with the jingle of small change; real money being spent on processing and development.
All the crutches of modern technology will be swiped away, forcing me to relearn the art from the ground up, with the hope that I may improve my craft in ways I cannot yet foresee.
Option 2: The cutting-edge, productive, experimental, professional, creative approach
I will sell all my existing camera gear and purchase a brand-new top-of-the-range digital camera like the Sony NEX-7. It will produce game-changing video footage and stills, and require nothing more than carrying SDHC memory cards around.
Because of this, I will be able to capture limitless amounts of content with unprecedented ease. Every click of the shutter will reflect the time and energy I’ve expended on developing my skills until now.
All the latest in modern technology will be at my fingertips, allowing me to take the art to the next level, with the hope that I may be able to use my craft to make a living in ways I cannot yet foresee.
I think you can see where I’m going with this. There are two opposing motivations at work here. I don’t consider one option to be better or more virtuous than the other — it’s a real fork in the road; neither way more likely-looking than the other.
The fact is that I’ve made adventure and creativity a core part of how I spend my brief allowance of time on Earth. It’s critical to my sense of purpose and my enjoyment of life. I constantly need to feel as though I’m learning and developing; there has to be a sense of progression.
Get the clunky old film camera.
At the same time, there is pressure to provide for the needs of others, primarily my wife Tenny. And there is the emerging fact that Janapar, my all-consuming film and book project, still has a very long way to go before it will see the light of day, let alone provide any semblance of an income as a by-product.
One answer is to be more productive with my passions. I wrote recently about how I’m making a living as an adventurer. Another film; another book? Several of the above? Less ambitious, yet still well-formed and worthwhile. These are things I love creating, but I tend to experiment far more than I publish. Perhaps, if I could actually bring some of these ideas to completion, and package and distribute them well, then a living might emerge quite naturally.
Get the swanky new digital camera.
As I’ve written previously, I’m shortly to depart for my next trip. It’ll be a jolly two-month jaunt down one of the developed world’s classic rides: the U.S. West Coast, from Canada to Mexico, with my brother, who I’ve barely seen for half a decade.
The question, therefore, isn’t actually “which camera should I take”. The real question — as someone pressing forward with a self-made ‘career’ as an adventurer — is:
“Can I justify using this journey purely to satisfy my personal interests, when I increasingly need to consider how it all might be sustained?”
What do you think the answer is?