take a picture
buying my way out of the doldrums
I bought myself an early birthday present. I do this every year, get a little something for me from me, but it’s not usually extravagant, it’s more likely to be just a little something I’ve been eyeing; maybe a vinyl box set or a new pair of shoes. But this year I went all out because it’s something I needed to do to propel myself forward.
I’ve loved photography since childhood, back in the days of Polaroids and film cameras and those disposable flash bulbs. When I was 20, I bought myself a beautiful Pentax which was stolen from me two months later. I couldn’t afford to buy another and my hobby went up in smoke.
In 2002, I decided to get back into photography and bought a Sony Mavica, a fun little camera that stored pictures on a floppy disk. I upgraded several times after that, moving on to Nikon DSLRs. I threw myself into the hobby and amassed thousands of pictures, all stored on my flickr account.
I let the hobby die out about seven years ago, when my depression and anxiety seemed to settle in wholeheartedly. I no longer cared about taking pictures, or processing photos, which was a sub-hobby. I no longer cared about anything, really, and forcing myself to get out of the house just to take pictures seemed overwhelming. My cameras and lenses literally collected dust on my shelves. I would eye them every so often, thinking I should dust them off and get moving again, but nothing ever came of it.
Here we are 20 years after I bought that Mavica. A lot has happened in those 20 years. A lot of photos were taken and so many photos were missed because I was too tired, too lazy, too depressed to take my camera out.
I have spent the past year and half in a fugue state of sorts, drifting in and out of a depression brought on by the end of my marriage. I have spent more time than I care to count on my couch, watching sports and scrolling twitter and doing absolutely nothing with my free time. I honestly did not know what to do with myself besides mope and mourn and grieve. This past weekend, I had a good, long talk with myself about what I’m doing and where I’m headed. I know I have to shake myself out of these doldrums; it’s spring, almost summer, and the outdoors beckon. I can’t spend the rest of my life on my couch knee deep in my feelings. For the first time since my ex left, I felt the urge to get up, to go, to do something. And I knew what that something was. I needed a hobby. Something constructive, creative, besides writing a newsletter a couple of days a week because that does not get me off the couch. It hit me then, what I had to do. I had to get back into photography.
I had the old Nikon, but I felt the need to start new and fresh. The Nikon I have was a gift from him and it seems like letting go of it is a good idea. The idea of starting new appeals to me; I’m picking up photography on my terms, with my money, with help from no one but me. What better birthday present to give myself than the gift of a new lease on an old love (and I am gifting my sister the Nikon and lenses).
I feel like this will be a real turnaround point in my current life. The excitement I feel about this, the sureness that I’ve done the right thing in spending this amount of money makes me feel like this is just what I need. The package comes Thursday. Friday I’m off to Rhode Island for the weekend. What better way to reacquaint myself with photography than to take off for a couple of days and shoot a parade and a light show? If this sounds like I’m justifying purchasing an expensive camera setup it’s because I am. Spending money - especially this much money - is not something I do lightly. Spending money on myself is something I hardly to at all. But this feels bigger than just an impulsive purchase; it has meaning, it has importance. The struggle of the last two years has almost beaten me, but I think I found a way to come out on top.