If you’ve been following along for a while, you might have picked up the hint that I like photography a little bit.
And when I say “little bit” I mean “in much the same way as I enjoy breathing”. Take my camera away from me and you might as well help yourself to a lung or two while you’re at it.
I can even recite the list of cameras I’ve had, should you be having some trouble sleeping and need someone to bore you into unconsciousness. We’d start waaaay back with the light blue Hanimex that took a cassette of film (yes: a cassette of film), then we’d move on to my dad’s Pentax before taking a break for digital to get going, at which point we’d pick up with the chunky Kodak and head forward to…
Actually, let’s zoom past some point-and-shoots and my first forays into DLSRs and come right to my constant companion: the Olympus OM-D E-M5. I always thought it was going to be my back-up camera; the one I didn’t mind chucking in my bag and keeping with me wherever I went. Until I realised it was just as good as my Canon 60D, which I sold so I could buy my new camera some nice lenses.
It’s been to beaches and ruins and to mines and caves. It’s helped me produce the images to share in my calendar every year.
It’s even been to work with me once or twice and it was at work that the unthinkable happened. I was having a fabulous time photographing the dress rehearsal for a concert – I’d just bought an expensive zoom lens for performance photography and this was my first chance to test it out. In the middle of all this activity and a sense of feeling I was in my element, the camera’s screen went white.
It probably happened in a split second, but time seemed to slow down for me. One minute, I was looking at students dancing on stage; the next, pure whiteness was fizzing up the electronic viewfinder like bubbles in a champagne glass.
It must be the battery – or so I told myself. I’d been having trouble with one of them running out of charge quickly… but I’d just put in my good battery.
It would be fine. Surely. I’d just need to get some new batteries and I’d been planning to do that anyway. Never mind that I’d never seen that white screen before. Never mind that a dying battery was usually greeted by a flashing empty battery symbol, shortly followed by the whole thing turning off.
Nevertheless, I put a battery on charge as soon as I got home and before I went to bed, I popped the charged battery into the camera and switched it on.
Not a sound.
Not a single sign of life.
As for me, I felt as though one of my hands had been chopped off. How was it possible to have no camera? Was that any way to live?
If half of the photos of me are any guide, it’s no way at all. In fact, people probably don’t recognise me if I don’t have a camera stuck in front of my face.
I felt absolutely bereft and a little bit empty. It feels a bit silly to say that: it’s only a camera, after all. But I hadn’t realised how much it meant to me until it was suddenly gone.
In fact, I hadn’t realised how much photography meant to me until it was suddenly impossible.
Plus, you know how it is when you suddenly can’t do something: it becomes the only thing you actually want to do. A bit like when the power goes out and that’s when you decide you desperately want a cup of tea or to do a spot of ironing.
For a little while there, all I could do was look back at some of the last photos I’d taken with my old camera, little realising I was close to the end of an era.
(Of course one of my last photos was of a bird. Lovely Yellow Face, with his feathers being ruffled by a breeze.)
I’m lucky that I was able to buy a new camera. It’s the next version of the old camera and there are plenty of things to like about it, although many of the dials and buttons are in different positions. I don’t know it well enough yet, but I can guarantee it will go on just as many adventures with me and it will capture lighthouses, cats and a lot more besides.
This new camera has an awful lot of life to see with me.