This image was captured on my last visit to Mt. Lemmon, in the Catalinas, just outside of Tucson. I was using the nicest camera I’ve ever owned, a Sony full-frame mirrorless. I bought the camera for the Abuelos project I did in Guatemala in 2018. The image quality that came out of it was stellar, especially in low light situations. I was able to record high definition videos of the Mayan elders I interviewed, up to 30 minutes at a time. In short, it was the right tool for the job.
When I moved to Oaxaca, I decided not to bring it along, for a few reasons. First, it was huge. I hated lugging it around, and the lenses it used were massive as well. If I had wanted telephoto capability, I would have been buying a lens for several thousand dollars that was the size and weight of a 2 liter Coke bottle. Also, ever since my first DSLR, I have been using Olympus, who have a 4:3 format. I like it so much more than the 2:3 standard. I still use my Olympus OM-D micro 4:3 camera. It is light, small, has great macro capability, and I have a 600mm equivalent lens that is the size and weight of a 12 oz Coke can.
I don’t even carry my Olympus around much here. Not that I’m worried about it getting stolen. That of course is a possibility anywhere. It just doesn’t matter so much to me these days. I take lots of photos, just with my phone instead of my camera. Of course no matter how many megapixels your phone has, or how good its software is, a lens the size of your pinkie fingernail will never give you the kind of image you can get with one the size of the top of a Coke can, which in turn will never give you the results of one the size of a 2 liter bottle.
What it comes down to is a couple of things. I have moved on from photography, not in the way I have abandoned painting, but these days, all my images are going here or on Instagram (mostly the latter), so high resolution isn’t so important. I save my attention to detail for my writing projects. I still take a lot of pleasure in documenting my journey through life, and finding beauty in the decaying and the mundane, but I am no longer interested in making giant prints on fancy paper with a professional printer. I just want to share them on your phone or laptop and promote my books occasionally.
Maybe more importantly, I don’t want to be that tourist with his camera perpetually dangling from his neck, waiting to be aimed at whatever or whoever looks exotic. I live here now. It is less and less exotic by the day, This is a good thing. I am beginning to see the mundane more clearly. For the moment, I only take my “real” camera when I go out to historic sites or on tours. When I do tourist things, in other words. I use my phone to document the ever-changing art gallery of Oaxaca’s street art, and to capture whatever oddity or beautiful light attracts my eye.
When those seeds take off in the wind, they don’t know where they will land, but wherever that is, they will find nourishment, take root, grow, and thrive. I’m pretty sure I’ve landed. I’m feeling nourished. The rest remains to be seen.