Digital photography and four days more

by Jeremy Boo

I have been trying (note this operative word since I hardly had the time to) to practise with a Canon 5d Mark II because I never felt comfortable with DSLRs. There are too many configurations, too many options. They are too bulky.

When I made photographs in the past, it was always with a manual SLR, either a Canon AE-1 or Nikon FE2:

Admittedly, I do not have the passion of a photographer. I see myself first a writer, then a photojournalist. I shoot photographs to illustrate my stories. I shoot photographs to compose an alternative photo essay that runs alongside my stories. Photography is a tool I use to tell stories, a necessary evil.

I do not like shooting pictures for fun or for art. I winced when I had to shoot bloody water lilies in Botanic Gardens at 6 am, because my photography teacher in secondary school said it was good practice, and I still do. So I dragged myself to Botanic Gardens a few weeks ago to shoot bloody water lilies.

The camera, I feel, is an obtrusion. And certainly, more than a few photojournalists have said that it acts as a shield, a shield that protects them from the brutality of whatever they are photographing.

And I am not comfortable with that. In order for me to write well, I need to be completely absorbed in my subject, lost in the moment, breathing in the emotions so deep in till my mind suspends reality. Likewise, to make acceptable photographs, I need to achieve that level of focus so that I forget about the nerves that inescapably comes with photography.

In contrast, reporting for writing feels like an anaesthetist’s hypodermic needle. You slip in and you slip out, unnoticed.

You angst in private only when you begin to write.