Photography: Life lessons from deleting 1,500 photos
I feel life very deeply.
My environment, the weather, the people around me, friendships, images, words and tiny nuances that others never notice or aren't affected by. Good or bad, I feel it all very deeply.
One of my mentors told me that's the reason why I'm a good writer.
But either way, it's definitely the reason I felt a huge burden lift when I deleted about 1,500 from my iPhone, including from a time period of what I just like to put in a big hazmat box called, "the bad stuff".
They weren't images of the bad stuff itself but simply many daily life photos taken in that time period. Every time I scrolled past them, they just took me back to "that" place; a place that steals more than my joy and puts me "there" all over again in a very real way, no matter how hard I try to disassociate an image of say, a tree, from the bad stuff. If it was taken during that time, it's permanently associated with the bad stuff.
Why did I keep them so long? In retrospect, I suppose it was out of the mindset that we take tons photos with our phones and just keep them forever because that's just what we do now. I had never questioned it until now.
I'm so glad I got rid of them. We never realize how much even seemingly weightless digital reminders actually do weigh on our soul. I felt so much better after they were all gone, apart from the general freeing up tons of space on my phone.
But in that process, I had spark moments of creative inspiration where I decided to go back to an "old fashioned" digital camera for most meaningful picture taking and use the phone as a secondary camera and even then, delete photos right away after sharing or serving their purpose.
Unpublished draft from April 2016
A few weeks ago I bought a new "real" camera; a little point and shoot Samsung. And in my favorite color no less. I hope to one day buy a bigger and more professional one, but for now, this one is serving a great need beyond just taking photos.
For the last few years I've been using my iPhone camera, which is great of course, but I had really missed the experience of a "real" camera. And the iPhone camera just isn't able to capture some of the images the way my mind's eye caught them.
But the experience of using a real camera also took me back to a good time in my life that I really miss in the sense that I was in a very creative and authentic place, personally and professionally. It reminded me of when I first started learning photography and discovering that I had a passion and an eye for it; it reminded me of some of the timeless images I'd captured throughout the years. You can see some of them here. It took me back to 2006, when I first became a picture taking freak and took my small camera everywhere.
Over the last few year I've really missed that and having a camera again, small and humble as it may be, helped me reconnect to me and that "good place" of creativity, connectedness to the world around me and authenticity.
I started getting to know it immediately and was curious to compare differences between the iPhone and camera. Both were high quality and both serve a purpose. But the camera photo was much more representative of what I see in terms of nuances and distances than the cell photo. That was the experience I missed not having a camera.
Having said that, I'm not at all against phone cameras. But I'm also really happy I bought a camera because... call my crazy or backwards.... until cell phone cameras, no matter how awesome, are actually "real" cameras, only the real deal will do, at least for me, and even if only for purely personal preference.
Either way, it feels really good to reconnect with what I love. And it looks like I'm back go carrying a camera and phone again, just like I did back in 2006, even if 2006 is "ancient" in terms of technology.
It just makes me happy. What a concept.
That's the great thing about creativity. You do what works, what's authentic and what flows, even if your flow goes against the flow of popular trends.
Back to today
I want to be more deliberate and thoughtful in my overall approach to photography, as part of an overall life purpose and organization process. I want to snap purposefully and critically. I want to travel light digitally. I want to keep the good and discard the bad, in photography and in life.
No more 1,500 photos on the phone ever again.
And that's something I feel very deeply and very good about.