My recommendation on the best investment a person can make?
If you have spent time around me, chances are I have freely given out this advice to you before. Even if for some odd occurrence I have not given you my unsolicited opinion on this topic, just by observing me for a couple hours you could probably guess how I would answer the above question. Still drawing a blank? Take one look at my Facebook page and click on the photos section and shake your head in that “this guy has way too much time on his hands” sort of way and you know exactly my answer to the opening question.
No, my answer is not a house, a car, an education, or even a family. Rather it is something much simpler and cheaper…
I firmly believe a camera is the best $100 to $300 a person can spend.
I am still in awe over just the very basic function of a camera. You point the device at something, click the button, and that moment is caught in time. Without the camera, the visual record of that event happening, that face being made, that dance move being performed, or those candles being blown out would slip away forever.
I believe once someone turns about fourteen, parents should purchase the kid a camera. The kid should then be encouraged to take pictures freely and liberally from that day on until he/she dies. I have a strong belief in preserving both visual and written history for every single person. As I have mentioned before, I feel everyone should keep a journal and take care of the written part. However, the visual aspect is more important in this post as we are talking cameras!
Now I know many of you right now are asking why a handheld camera is even relevant these days considering the invention of the IPhone and its built in camera with exceptional resolution and quality. Well, believe it or not, traditional cameras allow you to do much more. With many different features, effects, and zoom capabilities, a traditional camera enables you to take a better picture. Besides that though, I just think a non-iPhone camera encourages a person to take more pictures and to develop them and edit them. Yes, an iPhone does offer easy access for immediately posting a picture to social media sites but all it takes is a simple cord to transfer pictures from the handheld camera to online. Also, when you have a handheld camera you tend to take more pictures and when you post them onto Facebook you create an album that is much more organized, deep, and interesting than your typical catch-all “mobile uploads” album. An iPhone does add convenience for some types of pictures but it does definitely not replace the need for a separate handheld camera.
The ability to take a picture gives us so much. Namely, it gives us a memory. Five years later you can look at a picture you took, and, unless you were blacked out drunk, remember how you felt and the experience you underwent. Pictures also give us great information and reference points. I am constantly looking back at pictures that I took and that others took to make future arrangements. So say if at work we were planning one of our annual events and could not remember how we had set up the seating the previous year. I would go back and look at my pictures and instantly know the set up. Pictures provide proof as well. People might not believe that you met a famous person or that you built a 200 aluminum can pyramid but If you have pictures of it though, people can’t challenge you.
So while cameras produce pictures that provide memories, information, and proof, cameras most importantly provide documentation, basically a byproduct of the three previous attributes I mentioned. Professional photographers are appointed to follow U.S. Presidents everywhere they go and capture their every single moment inside the White House. When their term is over, the whole Presidency is documented. Because normal people like us don’t have first class photographers tracking our every move we should graciously take on the job of doing it ourselves. Carry a camera with you at all times and don’t be afraid to take pictures, even if it is just of the ordinary and mundane.
By this time I am sure you want to yell at me that you don’t care at all about capturing your life. You don’t care about taking pictures of your adventures, your friends, or yourself. But I would challenge you to look past what you feel and think about the next generation. Think about your kids and their kids. Think about how the pictures of you and your best college friends inside the Missoula Club might bring a smile to the faces of your grandchildren sixty years from now. Think about how the pictures might serve the public record decades from now. Think about how the pictures might console and comfort your loved ones if something tragic ever did happen to you.
As high school and college graduations start to hit full swing, think about rewarding a graduate with a camera. By getting this far it probably means their future is bright, let’s make sure to capture it. Don’t Blink.