On Not Taking Photographs

Awhile ago I broke my phone - accidentally and quite shockingly, almost violently. I’ve long suspected that my phone is the only camera I have any inclination to use these days, and the incident has confirmed this, because although I have a DSLR and although a friend has very kindly lent me a much older iteration of my trusty iPhone, I have taken precisely four photographs in the last two months (all on the iPhone 3G - the DSLR and its lenses lie in a drawer). The first was of the sun shining on a hillside and the quality is very poor. My disappointment at not being able to capture the particular quality of light, my sense of impotence, if you will, was so acute that it was nearly a month before I could bring myself to take another shot - this time on a hot bright day, the Summer VIIIs in full swing, the blurred image inadvertently evoking the rush of the boats and the cries of the coxes. I remembered why I used to obscure my iPhone shots with overbearing Hipstamatic filters; it’s like making the hole in a worn pair of jeans wider, trying to be honest about its flaw and in so doing highlighting it to such a degree that the flaw becomes somehow a thing that enhances, not detracts.

Anyhow, as I wait for news from the insurance company about whether or not the damage to my phone is reparable, I’m not really taking pictures. And I’m trying to see if it changes things. I do think I notice differently: I'm not looking for photographs in my landscape anymore. And I don't think this is necessarily a good thing. I like the version of myself that believes there's a photograph around any corner, maybe this one, maybe now. Now I just walk right through the world; the trek to and from the pool is uninterrupted by my need to document the evening green of the rugby pitch or the progress of the leaves on the trees outside Greyfriars. Strange skies and patterns are ignored. Moments are noted wistfully and then quickly forgotten.

On the other hand you probably couldn’t accuse me of not being "present" in my landscape; I'm interacting with it on a very ground level, there's no filter. Except that you could, because my mind, as always, is often elsewhere. Miles away, as they say. In another world altogether. That’s the thing you can't control and you can't blame on technology or anything but human nature, if there is such a thing.