A fresh perspective on looking through life’s lens

Sam Tench / Photo blogs / / 1 Comment

“Learning is a lifelong process.”

Peter Drucker

I’ve been mulling over this blog for days. I’m calling it writer’s block; that’s what it feels like when nothing remotely interesting comes to mind. I’m told this happens to the best of writers and frustratingly, the harder I’m trying, the more my thoughts are wandering. Yet, here I am, writing something from nothing! 

It all began with a dull, uneventful weekend.  On the Saturday, all I seemed to do was run around after my children, turn up late to pick them up, followed by several hours patiently sitting on a carpeted floor with my children and another little girl as they became acquainted with each other.

The following day, Sunday, turned out to be a little more productive but incredibly testing as I walked the Geelong CBD trying to become more familiar with a new camera I received for Christmas.  Maybe you’re wondering why I’d be finding time with a camera to be testing? Shouldn’t I be over the moon to receive a brand new upgraded camera?   The short answer is yes, but there’s more to this story.

The joy of upgrading

The transition from old to the new camera hasn’t been as smooth as I had hoped for. On the contrary, the upgrade has left me feeling like I’ve taken a massive step back.  Everything seems foreign again! I face a new and arduous journey of discovery!  All I want to do is take beautiful photos! But, somehow, the process hasn’t been as easy as that.

Fast forward to a few days later as I skimmed through the shots from Sunday. The pictures were not all bad. In fact, some were pleasing but I’m going to be honest; I’ve been feeling bummed about this whole scenario. “I’ve lost the knack”, I’ve told myself repeatedly. But then my photography passion had happened a lightbulb, “ah-ha”, moment of sorts.  A moment I was in desperate need of receiving.    

I looked back on that day as I walked the streets in a desperate bid to better understand some of the essential features on this new camera. This only served to leave me with either a strong sense of irritation at myself or, at times, pleased from shot to shot. That was until my inner mind gave me a swift kick and a harsh reality check—I needed to pause and acknowledge the many factors at play here.  Firstly, I should never assume that because I’m skilled with my old Nikon, there is no guarantee I will have a smooth and seamless transition to my new Canon.  Different brands, different quality, setup, the list goes on. We’re talking about two different pieces of equipment, and while some basics are alike, each brand has different features.  It would not be easy, nor instantaneous, love this time as I realised that to move forward, I first needed to take a step or two back.  Something I know my ED will gloat about.

New learning and that familiar voice

It’s taking me time to come to terms with this notion of having to take a step back. It’s delivered a harsh knock to my self-confidence, self-belief and has led me to seek time out alone as I embark on another period of experimentation and learning. I expect this new period of learning to be much longer than the first.  And as I experiment and practice, I find my inner mind-wandering deep in thought and self-critiquing once again.

 “Anyone who sees me trying to shoot will know straight away that I’m learning all over again?” “Will they see the frustration and sometimes devastation when something about using this camera eludes me? “Maybe, I should go back to my old familiar camera?  Remain with what’s comfortable, never to step outside of my comfort zone.”

Who would have thought something as exciting as a new piece of equipment could bring such deep and longstanding ED thoughts to the surface? Thoughts so profoundly ingrained, they have no trouble making themselves comfortable and feeling right back at home in a place they have been intimately in charge of for a long time. It’s a challenging situation I find myself in as I feel the critical side of myself awakening by something I love doing.

“Ha ha, told you so, you can’t do this photography stuff, but you SHOULD know how to do this”, followed by “You’re hardly new to photography, what’s wrong with you?”, “Maybe it’s time to admit defeat?”

Just like that, an ED can be re-awoken. No mention of food or even weight is necessary to awaken the beast within. EDs are not all about food They are a reflection of what is going on deep inside our bodies and minds. The food, the weight obsession, is merely a symptom of something much deeper that needs urgent treatment.

Where to now for my new camera and me?

I’ve had to take time to reflect and think long and hard about this current predicament.  Do I put the camera away in a cupboard to gather dust or embrace it and continue on my learning journey? Who knows where it may take me. The facts surrounding this scenario couldn’t be more transparent; a camera of this nature is quite an investment. But, more importantly, my family gifted it to me with significant consideration and the intention to strengthen my passion and abilities. Although the underlying intentions were positive, I need to change my perspective.

So, here I sit today, declaring myself to be on a new pathway of learning.   Upgrading my skills to become a better photographer than what I’d managed to achieve in the two years since being gifted my beloved Nikon.  I need to connect with that sense of self-belief and faith that I can do whatever I put my mind to. Then, I can proceed down this pathway of learning.  After all, learning is a lifelong process.

Take-home message

Recovery from an ED is hard work.  Telling a friend or relative that they should, “Get over themselves and just go eat a hamburger,” is not a helpful way to approach that particular person’s situation.  Instead, we all need to dig deeper and be more open-minded to the deeper problems and issues faced by others.

Most often, a person’s road to recovery will encounter some form of relapse or taking a step back. I’ve been advised many times that this is the norm and to be expected. However, as with my new camera, when this happens, it is not all bad news.  Essential lessons are hidden within a setback or relapse that we can learn from. We might learn a lesson that may ultimately contribute to saving us from ourselves.

So, back to me, my boring weekend and that new camera which has me second-guessing myself and my abilities.  What about the barrage of negative self-talk and the ease with which I have found myself falling back into the old, “I can’t do this, I’m not good enough, everyone’s better at this than me,” kind of thinking?  I can acknowledge that it’s unfair to tear myself down because this new technology is more advanced than what I’m accustomed to. I can see this clearly as I sit here reading through my work. None of us can realistically claim to be a master of anything.  Learning is progressive and lifelong; mistakes will always happen throughout the process we call life and living.

My job now, in terms of ED recovery and my personal feelings towards myself and the camera, is to acknowledge that my path was never going to be linear, and I must not give up.  Keep moving forward, step by step and accept I will fall off the wagon occasionally. Nobody is perfect.


1 Comment

  1. Julie Johnson  —  18 May 2021 at 9:18 pm

    Learning is a lifelong journey, never a truer word spoken as the hills we drag ourselves up are interspersed with valleys and sometimes a period of flat ground. The flat ground where life is easier or comfortable, controllable appears to be of short duration whereas the challenges can sometimes be all we can see. You are learning all the time Sam about that mystery of life over which we really can have little control, but it’s how we let it control us that is most important. Keep going with the new camera, try not to be so judgemental of yourself, you are doing a great job! Julie xx


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