What do you call a photographer without a camera?

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Saturday night and we were all snuggled up on the sofa, the kids cozy and warm in their pj’s sharing a fluffy blanket between them. It had been such a busy week, and a late Friday night and they desperately needed some down time, so we’d eaten early, put on a film and were all cuddled on the sofa.

I jumped up to answer the door to the guy who was coming to pick up my Mac, which had inconsiderately died on me earlier in the week, and when I came back into the room I saw that my littlest love’s eyes were firmly shut and he was drifting past the point of no return towards those visions of sugarplums dancing in his head, leaning heavily on his big sister, who had wrapped a comforting arm around him. They looked so cute – I immediately grabbed my camera from the shelf where I tend to keep it close at hand while we are in the house.

I adjusted my settings for the darkened room while we oohed and ahhed at how cute he looked then ducked low to get the shot. Then nothing. I pressed the shutter, and instead of the usual click I heard a slow soft whir. I glanced down to see if I had inadvertently set a much longer shutter speed than I had intended, but instead I saw ‘Err 30’ flashing up on the screen.

I tried the usual, highly technical first fix for most camera problems, and turned it off and back on. I pressed the shutter; whirrrrr again. So I took the battery out, waited a few seconds and put it back in, then tried again. Whirrrrrrrr. By this point we’d lost the moment – the kids had moved positions, and my little big girl was so aware of me standing there with camera in hand that even if it had started working, there was going to be some serious cheese going on. So I started googling, and very quickly discovered that error 30 was no laughing matter; shutter failure, and I was unlikely to be able to resolve it on my own, if at all.

Losing my ability to download and edit my photos, and access to my catalogue of images and other files when my Mac died, albeit temporary, was a tough pill to swallow. My camera breaking on top of that left me feeling as if part of me was missing. Recording our day to day is something I’ve come to take for granted over the years – I pick up my camera and create a visual memory several times a day, almost without thinking about it. Not to mention that my businesses cannot function without these two vital pieces of equipment – I had been in the middle of finalising art book designs for two (beautifully understanding, thankfully) clients, the day my Mac decided to stop playing ball. And I had sessions lined up which I needed my camera for. All of these factors, plus the thought of the immense cost of replacing my equipment led to a (relatively warranted, I felt at the time) panic and grump from me on Sunday morning, which was only made worse when I discovered that the extent of the issues with my Mac meant an upgrade was going to make much more sense than a repair.

A few hours, some deep breathing, a sensible chat with my husband and a phone call or two to the people who know about this stuff put me in a much better place, and I was able to sit back and start feeling the gratitude:

  • I have a back up camera for exactly these situations.
  • The camera had failed at home rather than in the middle of a client session.
  • I’m going to get a shiny new Mac which will be much quicker and more efficient and in the meantime my awesome and incredibly generous friend has lent me her laptop so that my businesses don’t grind to a complete halt this week.
  • I learnt my lesson years ago, before my days as a professional photographer, about backing up my files, when a pc broke and I lost the images of my daughter being born… my office is back up central these days and there’s no chance of the same thing ever happening to me again!
  • The fabulous people at London Camera Exchange in Guildford once again proved their utter brilliance by answering my panicked phone calls in the middle of their Sunday stock take, taking time to talk me through the various options with my camera, before looking at it on Monday and reassuring me that it was a fix rather than a replace situation, then providing me with a loan camera while they sent mine away.
  • It’s amazing the space that a lack of technology can provide… not only the physical space of a 27″ screen missing from my desk, but also the mental space you get when you remove some of your every day activities for a while. I’ve enjoyed spending time thinking, planning, putting pen to paper and writing.
  • This is a first world problem! It’s a temporary set back, a technical glitch, and in spite of me saying I feel a bit like I’ve lost my right arm, nobody has been hurt and there are no lasting life changing consequences!
  • Everyone I’ve come into contact with over this has been incredibly helpful, understanding and kind – my clients, the Mac guy, the camera guys, various experts whose advice I asked, fellow photographers and friends. I am truly feeling the love here; I can’t thank them all enough!

I’m excited about getting my new machine and having my own camera back in my hands, and having access to my huge catalogue of images once again – writing this blog post really brought to light how much I rely on it from day to day; I enjoy writing and love weaving words to paint a picture, but a photograph always makes the experience that bit richer! What I have gained is a renewed gratitude for being able to take amazing photographs and record visual memories that tell the story of my family and others. There’s nothing like removing something from your daily life to make you start truly appreciating what it means to you again!

Do you want to start getting more out of your fancy camera? The next run of our popular Photo Basics workshop is taking place in Bookham on 22nd April – book your space today.

Ready for the next level? Try Beyond the Basics.