I’m not a camera person. Never have been. I’ve received a few as gifts over the years. But had I not, I probably would still be using disposables. In some ways, I still prefer the precarious nature of a crappy disposable camera. Also, they’re disposable! Which is awesome. And preferable for Calamity Jane types, like myself, who also struggle daily with their inherent and somewhat debilitating non-committal nature. Okay!
For starters, I don’t like carrying cumbersome crap around with me all the time. But camera culture tells me I should never leave home without my camera, or I’ll seriously regret it. After hanging out with enough people who practically want to hump their cameras, it seems a common occurrence that they’ll forget their cameras when presented with the “perfect” photo op. They’ll say, “The one time I leave my camera at home!” Jesus. So many missed opportunities to capture the wonder of shit and other crap, MAN.
All that fuss over a stupid camera? No thanks! There are only two instances in which I actually regret not having a camera with me: the very first day of a vacation OR when I see someone doing something really humiliating that I know I’ll never be able to fully recreate in story form. Other than that, I have no desire to lug a sensitive electronic device around with me at all times. Because I’m clumsy and I don’t deserve to have nice things. Also, I’m not a photographer. And I’m not a 30-something male having a premature midlife crisis.
Considering I’m always the one without a camera, I’ll bet my life is pretty well documented… through a variety of pictures taken by old friends and strangers I met at bars. I have a vast array of readily available energetic and uncomfortable looking facial expressions, which range from subtle to extremely overt! A shrink would probably tell me that my crazy faces only serve to mask the fact that I am genuinely uncomfortable. But, that’s not it. I actually really enjoy having people take my picture. I’m a total ham. But I’m also reasonable (like President Laura Roslin in Battlestar Gallactica). See, the odds of attempting a serious pose for a picture and having it look slightly awkward are really high. Not just for me, but everyone. It’s hard! I’d much rather embrace the alternative and intentionally pose really bad and have the opportunity to move around a bit without ruining the picture, because the picture is already ruined intentionally- by me! And this way, everyone is laughing at me, but with me… at me. Together!
I got my first non-disposable camera at the transitional age of twenty-one, a birthday gift from my boyfriend at the time. I absolutely loved it. I took pictures of everything. And that’s when I learned that having a nicer camera doesn’t always make the pictures… nicer. I never read the manual, which probably didn’t help. I never learned more than how to push the “picture taker button” as I called it. WHOA. I know, I know. My technical terminology is pretty overwhelming.
Even so, with all the professional know-how aside (miles away), behind that tiny lens everything suddenly became very meaningful and poetic. I recall taking about a hundred pictures of a small piece of red yarn that was resting atop a pile of dirt and rocks. I also remember sifting though them all, meticulously narrowing them down to the top ten. TOP TEN! They all looked the FUCKING SAME.
And then I had a Jesus moment. That camera had successfully turned me into a douche-bag. I retreated immediately. I put my newly found aspirations aside, and resumed spending my free time doing what I do best (or at least consistently), making mix tapes and writing crap like this. And now that camera sits at the bottom of my digital junk drawer with a dead battery and a broken charger, dusty and forgotten. Like the Velveteen Rabbit.