Leaving the US…and My Digital SLR – a quick post with no pictures

So far, it seems everyone in Amsterdam is beautiful. And rides bikes.

I’ve wandered the canals, stumbled on the I Amsterdam sign, ran in the park, and visited the Van Gogh Museum. And I’ve taken a few pictures…with my phone. I left my incredibly expensive, amazing camera behind. In storage.

I was packing early Tuesday morning, running out of time and space, and I decided not to bring it. I realized I didn’t want to bring it – didn’t want to deal with it and all its parts.

One thing I had hoped to discover on this journey was whether I loved photography enough to carry everything around with me. The answer has been a resounding “apparently not”.

Traveling with the Camera

There’s the camera body, a wide-angle lens, and a telephoto zoom lens. Plus the cleaning supplies and cloths, chargers, filters and extra cords, a small tripod, extra battery and memory cards, and a few other accessories. Adding this to everything else on my back for an undetermined amount of time through unknown climates and varying countries with varying forms of transportation and lodging….

The truth is simply that I didn’t want to bother with it. Lugging it from place to place – and you know it’s going to rain – just seems like more of a chore and less of anything I would enjoy.

But I spent so much money on it! True, but this can’t be the deciding factor. In fact, the price shouldn’t carry any weight whatsoever.

The Importance of Words

The reason I created this blog is to write – but not necessarily for this blog. I’m not doing this to make money or because I even want a blog. The purpose is to practice. I’m writing here simply to get the words flowing. To remember what it’s like to see words on paper/screen. To edit. To change. To work. I’m hoping that with practice, the words will come a bit easier. I’m hoping that when I really need them – really want them – the words will flow.

Because the words are what I’m after. That’s the part of me I want to explore and have an honest go at. I packed the laptop without question and without hesitation.

Real Human Experiences

While the camera can lead to conversation, it can also function as a barrier or shield against honest connection, if I let it – which I have done in the past and would probably do again.

Now, I did recently photograph surfers on both the west and east coasts of the US, which I really enjoyed. I found a window into a culture I’d had no previous experience with. I only recently took swim lessons, so I’ve certainly never surfed. And surfers surf. A lot. They’re very passionate about it, and that’s the type of energy I like to surround myself with.

Fortunately for me, surfers are usually more than willing subjects. I’ve gotten some great shots that I’m quite proud of. Some of my favorites may never see the light of day, but others have been well-received. And I honestly LOVE getting the shots! The challenge of tracking a surfer, learning his style, predicting which waves he’ll take or when he’ll make a turn. I enjoy it. Immensely. It’s why I’m spending over a month in Peniche next month: to shoot a surf competition. I was really looking forward to it! But I didn’t bring my camera, and the iPhone just won’t cut it.

This is where I’m stuck. I could have it shipped, but then I’m back to carrying it, and I just don’t know what I could give up in my pack to make room! I want to have my camera next month. I admit it! Was I too hasty? But it would mean carrying a third bag…on planes, on trains, on buses, on boats and ferries, and hopefully on tuktuks and rickshaws.

Basically, I’m 100% confident about my decision – except when I’m not.

Land the Plane (AKA Wrap it Up)

This morning I slept in a bit, did yoga, and went for a run in Vondelpark. The weather is perfection. Afterward, I showered and headed to the supermarket. I picked up lunch and ate it in the Museumplein, which is where I finished this post. I’ll drop things back at the room soon and head to the Van Gogh Museum. But first I need to reach out to Amy, an artist I met at the airport when I first arrived. She invited me to an art show tomorrow that looks to be pretty fantastic.

And I don’t need to lug around several pounds of camera equipment to enjoy any of it. And I’m glad.


The Best Surfer is the One Having the Most Fun – A Photo Essay


Amsterdam, Netherlands | First Stop


  1. Robert Ikenberry

    Jen: So good to hear from you and your blog. Hopefully this is the first of your European travels and I haven’t missed any. Don’t sell your cellphone camera short, its fixed focal length and limited sensor size are challenges, but not necessarily limitations. Zoom with your feet, stick to good lighting. You can do amazing things with color and composition, I know. We want to see where you are and what you’re doing. You don’t need a DSLR these days to take great pictures! Treat it as another adventure. And if it turns out it the phone just doesn’t work for you, there are several Mirrorless compacts that can substitute for a DSLR and lenses for a fraction of the size and weight….

    • Amsterdam is my first stop. You have missed nothing! I’m actually enjoying the challenges of limiting myself to my iPhone camera. I have a small, waterproof point and shoot too, but I haven’t even tried it out yet! I’m not sure whether I’ll even keep it with me for the entire trip.

      The camera I left behind is a mirrorless compact, and you’re right. It’s a fraction of the size and weight. However, once you add everything up, it’s still….well, adds up!

      I am so glad you hear from you and hope everything is well!
      Jen @ One Year 75 Times recently posted…Leaving the US…and My Digital SLR – a quick post with no picturesMy Profile

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