I can’t believe I haven’t put up a blog post since June 10th. I do apologize, gentle reader. June was a weird month. Mostly, it was dominated by a week long trip to North Dakota.
I hesitate to call it a “vacation”. I won’t use this forum to share too much about my personal life, but basically we did this for my father. He is aging, and all that goes with that. Therefore, as a family, we decided to really push for this trip to help him visit his family and friends that are back in North Dakota, where he was born and raised.
It was not a fun trip, but it was a good trip. And a necessary one.
And I took my camera.
I had an uncle who worked for Northrop, I believe, or General Dynamics, or some company like that. He was part of a division based in Japan, and would visit that country frequently. Before one impending trip, my mom (his sister) asked if he was going to be taking his camera. He, too, was an avid shutterbug. I’ll never forget his reply, “No, I’m tired of looking through a lens for the whole trip. I’m just going to leave it this time and enjoy myself.”
I didn’t understand that at the time, photography as a burden. Like it was some kind of inconvenience, or chore even, to snap some pictures during a trip. I was really young at that time. It started to make more sense, in theory, as I’ve gotten older. I totally understand it now, in practice, after this trip.
Please understand, I love North Dakota, I truly do. I love the rolling, verdant hills, the rustic rural farms, the immaculate white frontier churches that dot the landscape, the other worldly feeling of the western Badlands. And I wanted to capture it all. Every new vista was a potential photograph. Each sunrise or sunset was a potential calendar page. And I had to capture them all.
Or, at least, that was my instinct. I could have easily turned a two hour drive into a seven hour drive, with all the stops I wanted to make. I could have woken up at 3 A.M. to drive out to that old Lutheran Church in the middle of nowhere just to photograph the golden morning light reflecting off it’s steeple. And I desperately wanted to. At the expense of everything else that was going on during that trip. It was a constant temptation. Daily I tried to keep the photography/family balance, and hopefully I succeeded. Mostly.
I confess there were times where I just had to stop the truck, literally run out into a field or something, frame/check exposure/snap/repeat, then run back to the car all apologies. Or there was the very last night of the trip, totally ready to just crash in the room one last night and get a good night’s rest before the flight home the next day. However, there was just something I needed to do. One last photograph I needed to take. So, with my wife’s permission, ever loving, ever patient she, I bounded out of the room and searched along the nearby Missouri River for the right spot to snap my final sunset from the Peace Garden State. See above.
It was worth it. But, again, that is how the whole trip could have been. I get what my uncle was saying. I’m glad I didn’t let my passion become my obsession, especially when it would have been at the expense of very real experiences. It is, in a way, a struggle I deal with on a daily basis, even without going on holiday.
That said, I left a thousand missed photographs in North Dakota.
Hopefully, someday, I’ll get back there to collect them.