What Do I Need?
Tomorrow, I am off to New York City for two reasons: one to see my daughter, perhaps for the last time before she becomes a mother and I become a grandfather. Secondly, to go to B & H Photo with two of my beloved cameras to try and trade them in for enough credit to get a new lens or possibly, a different, even used new camera.
Maria will drive me to the train and she'll pick me up in the afternoon and bring me home. My daughter and I will meet for lunch somewhere in midtown Manhattan.
It's an important trip for me, creativity and personally.
I want to clarify and simplify my photography. I'm delighted with the black ad white monochrome, it is inspiring me think differently about my photography and to see images differently. I also want to buy a portrait lens. My plan is to end up with two cameras, one for color, one for black and white.
I want to see and talk to my daughter before I become a grandfather this summer.
I will be downgrading from the high-end Canon 1D to a less expensive model, when I got the 1 D I thought I would be shooting fast-moving animals, but I think I don't need that complex a camera for what I shoot now. I want to end up with fewer things that I use more and master. My two main lenses would be the 35 mm, my favorite lens, and a portrait lens, possibly the 85 mm.
The camera I have an eye on would improve the resolution and picture quality of my photos,mbut would shed some of the expensive features I don't really use.
To pull this off, I have to haggle with the legendary buyers and appraisers at B&H Photo, they are honest but tough.
And I am re-considering what it is I really need, the key to a considered life.
Like everyone else, money is tight for us and we have made some desperately-needed improvements to the farm. In order to live the loves we love, we have to be continuously conscious about money. That is the life we chose. Writers and artists do not have a lot of cash lying around, and never have.
If I can't get enough for the cameras, then I will only buy what I have the money to buy. I might come back with nothing, or with one camera instead of two, or with a used camera instead of a new one, or with one new lens. The blog readers were kind enough to help me buy the monochrome – and I am sharing the photos, as promised – but I'm not comfortable asking for any more, or putting any more pressure on our budget.
I have to figure out how to make it work so I can be responsible, help manage our finances, and continue to expand my creativity.
We are re-paying the last of the debts we incurred over the sale of the first Bedlam Farm, and we are committed to re-paying all of them. That will take us awhile. We have made great progress.
Some think photographic equipment is frivolous, especially if you aren't rich. Photography is not a hobby for me, it much more important than that. The cameras are not toys. The photographs are central to my income, from the blog, from my books, they are key in attracting people to my blog and growing my presence online. Photography is not only essential to my creativity, my art, but to my income as well.
We live in a visual age, words are not enough. Photos tell stories also, and photos and words have worked beautifully for me, together they are a major reason millions of people read my blog each year.
That makes it all more complicated for me. Maria, as always, supports my creativity. If the trade works, she says, get the camera, get the lens. If it doesn't get what you can afford. Makes sense.
I'm thinking of skipping the lens for now, getting it down the road, perhaps if and when I sell another book. I thought this would all be simple, but it isn't, really. It speaks to my own sense of responsibility and maturity, my evolving ideas about what it is I truly need, the support of creativity, and my growing dedication to a simpler and more spiritual life. That means fewer things. Less is more.
I am not a diddler, I usually make decisions quickly, i don't often spend much time in self-doubt, or in second-guessing. I can leave that to the many people on Facebook who love to do it. Fortunately I have a beautiful two-and-a-half hour train along the Hudson to think about it.
And it is important to me to see my daughter Emma tomorrow. She is coming to B&H Photo to meet me, and we will walk together to a restaurant she has chosen. She is a whiz at finding good restaurants on her Iphone.
We live well apart from one another, we live differently, but we remain close and connected. I suspect she cannot yet grasp the meaning to a father of seeing his daughter, his only child, make this great transition from one phase of life to another.
To me, this marks the clear boundary between being a child and being a mother, two very different things, for her, for me. So tomorrow will be a growing day, a learning day, an emotional day. Maybe a creative day.
I'm excited to see what happens. I have some decisions to make.