12: Drawing the line

Day 12 of 100, Singapore

This daily writing thing is getting harder and harder, and I’m only at the 12% mark.

The difficulty is not in a lack of things to say. It’s where to draw the line about what should be said and what shouldn’t. What needs to be said for a blog post to be worth writing, and time spent for the reader? What needs to be kept close because of possible repercussions? How does one possibly anticipate all the repercussions?

Yesterday’s post was going to be a much longer one about photography and class. How at home in my younger days, photography was a hobby only “rich people” could indulge. We weren’t poor by any means, though it was a lot later that I realized this. I grew up in a working class household, so money was tight, but we could, and always did, afford necessities. The not-so-poor penny dropped around the time the folks offered to send me to university in Australia. I was flabbergasted. To say that being an international student at a foreign uni is expensive, is understating the matter. It’s a crap-f**king-load of money. I worried all through my 4 year degree that I was ruining my parents financially. And rather relieved when years after I graduated, I found they were indeed, just fine, as advertised.

My folks had both grown up very poor, and were very thrifty as a result. Anything requiring extra cash was usually met with “do you think your father prints money?” from leaving lights on in unoccupied rooms, to buying books, to… anything else, really. Along with this, we knew our place in the world. To simplify, it was a different place from the one rich people occupied. And photography was one of those rich people things, because it was (and still is) expensive, requiring equipment, access, and costliest of all, time.

This is the mindset I grew up with, that is very much a part of who I am. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may have noticed that from time to time, I express disbelief that I get to live like this: to choose what to do with my time, to choose to give up the security of a full time job for the instability of a freelancer’s life, to choose to travel (travel was definitely one of those things only the rich did!) so extensively. To be beholden to no one. And to be a photographer, to have expensive equipment that I use with the careless abandon of one who has every right to it (and its price tag). To live like a rich person, despite how much money I don’t have in the bank. It’s a privilege. A long way away from where I learned I belong.

All of this occurred to me yesterday, while staring at the GFX – Fuji’s new medium format machine – sitting next to my computer while writing was in progress. Sure, it’s a loaner (we have to return ours to Fujifilm Singapore stat), but if you told me a scant few years ago, that a camera company would lend me a ten thousand dollar device to have some fun with, I’d be all “your drug habit is out of control.” That kind of thing didn’t happen to people like me. It still spins me out when I stop to consider it.

I was going to write about all of this yesterday, but chickened out. “I’ll sleep on it,” I promised myself.

I figured today that I would publish this to see how putting it out there felt – and also how I could have written it better, a magic revelation that seems to only happen after the Publish button has been pushed.

So, here it is. Along with some JPEGs from that ten thousand dollar camera, which look no different to any other JPEG I’ve posted. Ha!

1 Comment

  1. Mike Vincent says:

    Charlene, I share a lot in common with what you have written. I was born into a single parent family. My mother worked the hours god send just to keep our two person family going. She succeeded. I am not educated with zero degrees. I got my world class education in the arts by studying to become a magician and performer. My mother sees the world through my eyes and my images through my Fuji Camera. I travel the world with a few decks of cards, magician props, Tuxedo, laptop and my camera. I pinch myself at times, I stood on Table Mountain, walked The Great Wall of China, why? Because I am good, very good at performing magic, my camera comes along for the ride. We are blessed and I agree, privileged to live the way we do, doing what we do and being able to share our journey through life with anyone who cares enough to read our blog. I care enough to read your blog, I love your images, I also experience you through your writings. Technology has made this possible. The miracle of this is we have never met personally and yet connected through a shared interested. That’s magic to me. Thank you for sharing. X

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