Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Marley.
Dicken's "Christmas Carol."
December marks the start of the holiday season and with it comes more free time to plod through websites, blogs and videos on the web. Most are either directly or indirectly trying to get me to buy more stuff. All kinds of stuff. Any stuff. It almost worked over the weekend. I had nearly convinced myself that I needed a second Leica CL. Someone close to me suggested I learn to use the one I already have before lighting another $3,100 on fire and tossing the burning embers into the fire pit of commerce. In the cold, hard light of day they were absolutely right. I was misguided. I should stay focused on the Leica Q2 instead! (Joking, just joking. It seemed to write itself...).
I hate the fact that if I look up the price of a camera on B&H Photo or Amazon I can "look forward" to seeing an infinite number of ads for the same camera pop up as ads on all my newsfeeds. There's an ad for X camera on the Washington Post site and here's the same ad on the business section of the New York Times site. And the ads are kinetic. The camera in the ad keeps jumping out at me from a whole ad full of similar products.
Business tends to slow down around the holidays. With my parents gone and the locus of celebrations dispersed there's less required attendance and supplication to family events than ever before. It essentially means that I'm more free to do things like supervise this morning's repair of our septic system or to wait on the phone to schedule having the same system pumped, later in the week. I might even have enough holes in my schedule to be present for that exciting event as well.
Since my small, nuclear family has been well provided for no one really needs or especially wants to get presents galore. In fact, everyone I know is busy trying to clean out clutter, to simplify their lives, and to remove all the over-aggregated possessions they've spent so much time and money getting in the first place. The running joke in our house is that I buy everything I want when I want it so instead of trying to be creative and finding the one thing I haven't gotten for myself the family can just come out to the office, sort through the cameras, wrap up the newest and shiniest one and put it under the Christmas tree. No muss and no fuss.
To a person we're all more interested in sharing a great meal with friends or buying stuff for extended family members who are still struggling to get established. It's much more fun that "getting something."
But, as photographers, I think the coolest gift we can reward ourselves with is the free time and the permission to go out on adventures taking photographs hither and yon. So, right now I have choices; I can sit in front of the computer and talk myself into ever more expensive and mostly useless (to me) camera gear or I can plan out shooting trips, get in the car with the right camera and lens (which I already own) and go have an adventure. I can watch tutorials on YouTube or I can go out and live my own tutorials in the world outside of my computer.
I love walking through various downtowns at late afternoon and early evenings, in new places, with a camera in my hands. I need to head to San Antonio during the holidays and spend a few evenings photographing the holiday trappings along the river walk. I need to head to Johnson City to see the 1,000,000 Christmas lights that Pedernales Electric Co-op puts up in the trees around their H.Q. and I really want to make it to San Angelo to see how they decorate their historic downtown for the season.
Since a lot of people are taking time off around the holidays I think it's high time I pressed some of this needlessly expensive photo gear I've been buying into taking personal portraits of all the friends I've wanted to have come over to sit in front of the lights and camera for me.
It's time for me to stop shopping for gear and start using what I've amassed. It's also time to turn off the mercenary photo sites and start looking around for things like good holiday movies, great cookie recipes and fun events I haven't discovered yet. If you can't make time for some of this stuff you might be working too hard. (But if that's fun for you then go ahead and do it. Advice seems specific to the particular human giving it).
It's a good time to write a few checks to the charities we support. It's time to remember friends who seem to inadvertently fallen off the radar. But it's mostly a time to celebrate making it as far as we have with as much grace as we can muster.
I guess when you hit a certain age you become happy all on your own and you finally realize that making other people happier is the secret.
Besides, the sales are generally better in January....
Don't look for gear links here. We're not part of the sales team.