Not being one to jump on any bandwagons, trends have never appealed to me. If it’s all the rage, I’m probably not doing it or buying it or seeing it or listening to it. I’ve missed out on some things that way, I admit, but the idea of getting on board with something because it is en vogue has often sent me looking for alternatives. Most of the time I’ve been vindicated, but some things proved me wrong and I had to come around to the trend eventually. The Hydro Flask was one example. Every colleague and client had one, but I just couldn’t bring myself to get excited about a modern day canteen. Until … I did. And then I understood what all the buzz was about. Now I own three of them. I can admit when I am wrong.
Digital photography was another “trend” I shunned. When I was in college in the early 80s (yes, I know), a friend who was a Photography major taught me how to shoot her 35mm film camera, a Canon AE-1. I remember the first time I went “live” as a photographer on the sidelines of one of our college football games. It was so invigorating; I felt like I was seeing things in a way that nobody else could. I loved everything about it — the crisp fall air, being near the action, and most of all getting the shot. Even as a beginner it resonated with me and I knew then it was something I could embrace.
Soon after that my mom gifted me a 35mm camera for Christmas — a Minolta X-370 — and I was on my way. I shot film photography for years as a hobby and thoroughly enjoyed it. But when the digital camera craze hit the scene some years later and everybody became a “photographer” overnight, I no longer wanted anything to do with it. It felt cheap and too easy, so I gave it up. Over the years I missed photography. I had some small digital cameras for travel, and of course, with smartphones came a new wave of digital art, but I never invested any real time in it. I never discussed how much I had loved it, and I never allowed myself to pursue it again because I didn’t want to be just another schmuck with a camera. In retrospect, it was my loss.
Then Covid turned the world on its head and I was hard pressed to fill my time. I finally got around to watching Downton Abbey a decade after it had been released (no trends for me!), but that was only 52 episodes. How I had lived without Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess in my life is a mystery. As the pandemic raged, I stared at the nightly news in stunned slack-jawed horror. I couldn’t pull myself away from the circus of reality show style press conferences, sky rocketing statistics of unemployment and death, the shut down of the global community, and the endless accounts of how people were being impacted by this pandemic. Our household suddenly became part of the demographic that suffered job loss, discontinued health insurance, unrealistic COBRA expenses, and navigating the unemployment system. Then, as luck would have it, that same friend from college sent me a text out of the blue saying she had found a good deal on a camera and that I should check it out. The timing could not have been better.
So, in August of 2020 I bought a digital camera — a Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ1000 with a Leica lens — and once again I was on my way. A bridge camera that filled a niche between the SLR and point and shoot models, it was the perfect camera to get me started again, and exactly the therapy I needed during the pandemic. I became a backyard birder and discovered that the universe outside my windows could provide a lot of entertainment and distraction in these crazy times. I no longer cared if I looked like “just another schmuck with a camera.” In fact, I rather liked it. And I always had my Hydro Flask nearby, too. 🙂 Sometimes late to the game is right on time.