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More Than Enough


For the longest time, I've wanted a camera.  You have a camera, a little voice would answer in the back of my head.  And I'd have to nod and say, Yes, that's true.  My little point-and-shoot performed minor miracles for me, capturing moments of rare beauty and the kind of memories you want to hold close forever.  And I was grateful.

But then one day I rushed back to my unlocked car only to discover someone else had been there first, my hiding place discovered.  My little trusty camera was gone. 

I grieved for about five seconds and then determined it must be a sign.  An invitation even.  My time had come.  No more excuses.  I made a list of reasons why this was my next logical purchase and recited them religiously to my family members mid-click at B&HI need it for my business.  I need it for my blog.  I need it for our family.  The real reason, however, remained unspoken. 

I need this for my soul. 

What is it about seeing life through the lens that makes everything important come into focus?  What is it about letting in more light that puts everything in perspective?  What is it about filling the frame with something, someone you love that makes all the pieces of my heart fall into a perfect whole?

I know, I know.  I sound ridiculous.  But I can hardly help myself.  I am completely and totally in love with a new way of seeing the world, with the challenge and discipline of waiting, of watching.  I'm consumed with the task of drilling down to essentials, of uncovering magic in the most unlikely places.  I'm soaking up the experience of trying something new--even though I have no idea what I'm doing.  Even though my shiny new camera is for the most part a mystery machine in my hands. 

Someday I'll know how to tell a story with one shot that makes you want to weep.  Someday I'll know how to create an image that leaves you wistful and aching.  Someday I'll even know what AF means on that little round dial.  Or TV or AV or A-Dep, for that matter.

Until then, it will be all wonder and pure love--and right now, that feels like more than enough.

Photo and post courtesy of Guest Blogger Jen Lemen

Reader Comments (39)

Your post is so beautifully More Than Enough. Thank you for being a guest on this site. And Thank You for writing this. My favorite part is the unspoken truth of why you "needed" the camera. "For your soul." And there is nothing that gets my creative juices flowing more than my digital "Big Ticket Item." (Nikon d50) LOVE IT!!! Seeing our lives thru our lenses is what bonds us all together, like blood brothers. WE ARE SHUTTERS SISTERS!!!
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjessica new
This was beautiful. Truly. It explains my feelings so perfectly. I got my Canon Rebel XTi this summer, and have been enthralled with the magic that can be created with a camera. The love of photography just swept in and knocked me off my feet....and I'm so glad it did.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermel from freak parade
I forgot to say...that picture is gorgeous, by the way. Her eyes are beautiful.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermel from freak parade
I bought the Digital Rebel when it first came out. This was before I had my first child. I worked a part-time job one or two days a week in addition to my full-time gig. I put all that money in a savings account until finally about a year later, I had the $1100 to plunk down on the counter of my locally-owned camera shop. I didn't dare ask my husband for the money, even though I probably could have begged it out of our savings. I had to buy it for myself. I don't know how many times I went in there and held that camera before I was finally able to buy it. I felt like it was an extravagance to spend that much money on a camera (now they've come down in price substantially).

You see, I've never had much. Sure my parents gave me what I needed and I have always worked, starting at age 14. But there was never this type of money to spend on something that wasn't a necessity. I put myself through college and grad school (still paying for that!). I have always struggled financially (we do as our parents do, don't we?). But it was the stability and security of my relationship with my new husband that allowed me to finally get something that I wanted, rather than something I needed.

In the weeks after I finally brought home that baby. We went to the finals of the State Talent Competition to see my sister perform. It was my first real chance to try it out. I zoomed in and out looking at people across the large room as we awaited my sister's performance. My mom asked to see the camera and I turned her down. I wasn't letting anyone touch it. She turned to our friends and said, "She'll trust me with the care of her children (I was pregnant at the time and she was to be the child's caretaker), but she won't trust me with her camera!"

So last night I stayed home with the baby (it was freezing out and I have a bad cold) while my husband took our daughter to the Valentine's Disco Dance at school. I sent him with my (much less expensive) point-and-shoot. Minutes after coming back home he informed me that someone knocked it out of his hands and the lens would no longer retract. He recounted how he told one of the teachers that I never liked that camera anyway and guess I'll be getting a new one.

It's true. I didn't like it because a point-and-shoot is never going to compare to a digital SLR. But I wasn't really in the market for a new one, either. And my first thought: too bad it wasn't my Rebel, because that's insured.

(Sorry to ramble, but I really loved your post today and I guess I have my own post for the day now!)
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLeeanthro
What a perfect post (and beautiful image)! That you need your camera "for your soul" couldn't resonate more true with me. And I'm glad to know I'm not the only one still trying to figure out what all the letters and modes on my camera mean while I ache to someday have the ability to capture the perfect feeling and story in a single image.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercorey (giggletwig)
I felt similarly when our trust point and shoot (granted, one of the better ones) died early last year. Of course, it took some time for me to save money to buy my XT (not XTi, sigh) because, you know, suddenly cars need tires and what not. But oh, it's been wonderful.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterFireMom
"I need this for my soul."

Yes, yes, yes. This is so true. I am where you were, without even my trusty little point-and-shoot, and it is absolutely awful not having a camera. Living vicariously through other people's work (like this site ;-)) is a blessing, but just not the same as having a camera in my hands.

Great post.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEmily
beautiful pictures! love that leafy reminder the best.

and you are not ridiculous! (well, if you are, then that means that i am too!) there's something about a camera that makes you FOCUS on life. those little details that would otherwise slip away.

congrats on your purchase, my camera was the best thing i could have done for myself. enjoy your time behind the lens!
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercamerashymomma
Very true...I needed mine for my soul, too. Some of the pictures I have taken of my little ones make me ache when I look at them. I want to be able to take more pictures like that for others, too.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterStacy
like i wrote it mysel minus the really cool camera you have. but the feelings . i get looked at a little funny lot of days, camera in hand, starpped to my wrist so i don't miss the perfect moment... oh and then the next perfect moment! it is a feeling i cannot explain yet you seemed to perfectly. i hope to someday soon save up for a SLR, but oh the completeness i feel behind a lens, any lens. thank you for the words i have always felt inside.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkristin
This post illustrates exactly how I feel about my camera. I started with the Rebel (now have a 40D), and it is a part of my soul.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAngella
Jen - forget the someday. You're already here. This photo is gorgeous, as are your words.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJena Strong
You have just described me to a 'T'. I feel the same way you did with your point and shoot but by the end of this year I will have my Canon Rebel. I'm glad that there are others out there who share the same feelings I do.

BTW, this is a great picture. I love it.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterchristel
She is beautiful to the depths of her soul...which can be seen through her amazing eyes.

Jen, you've spoken beautifully for me and many others. It's a love thing...I have no real clue what I'm doing with a camera. I just know what I see and feel.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermelody

I got my XTi last week to celebrate one year of parenthood.

I feel like a moth who, after throwing herself against the back porch light for the last year, has now discovered the sun.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKelly
Thanks so much for sharing this with us! I have to admit that I feel the exact same way when I have a camera in my hand. Unfortunately, I haven't been carrying one nearly enough over the last few years. Thanks for reminding me that my soul needs to hear the sound of that shutter and look through the eye of the lens every now and again, if not every day.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersmtwngrl
Brilliant and beautiful post Jen!

You did need this camera for your soul,
for your artists eye,
to help you do what you do best: sharing how you see the world.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterandrea scher
thanks for your amazing words jen. they resonate so deeply.
seeing life through the viewfinder has been incredibly healing and it was really what my soul needed to find happiness again.
how beautiful that you have the awareness to know that from the start!
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commentervivienne
Mind if I use part of your post? Right now I am SOOOO Wanting to go back to school to learn photography, I have always been a "picture" taker - always LOVED doing it and always had a camera in my hands - lately it's grown to so much more and it's a passion like you said something you just needed for your, trying to convince others that's the case - well this is so wonderfully written!
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJenn
At the beginning of 2007, I wanted a new camera. By the time I decided to go ahead and get a new one in April, my old one died. But I couldn't convince myself to spend the extra money on a DSLR, so I got a new P&S. Silly me, I was thinking with my pocketbook instead of my soul :) I liked it, but it just didn't give me all I wanted. So in November, I bought my Nikon D40... and I am in love! It's such a joy. And, like Leeanthro, I won't let anyone else touch it. ;) I'm a real novice but I am so anxious to play, experiment and learn all I can. And so grateful to have Shutter Sisters to inspire me every day!
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
Wow. What an incredible post. This one touched me in such a profound way. Being a new owner to the same camera you have, I'm in the same shoes. And I'm obsessed. Why did I wait so long?

It's amazing how I see things now through a lens. I also cannot wait to have that one picture that makes my heart ache.

Thank you so much for sharing.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea
Hello. Just popping over from your blog, jen. I'm going to steal a phrase from your tweet i read last night: not only did this post "kick ass", it made my heart leap and my soul dance. That's my enthusiastic response when someone puts my feelings into beautiful language. Your words about focus, light, love, waiting, watching and truly seeing resonate with me....and i'm just using a point-and-shoot Canon.

Thank you for writing this.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterElaine
Love your post. I relate so strongly. I felt divinely compelled to buy my 1st SLR -- on a credit card, despite debt -- and it has been the best source of joy these last months. I've never never regretted the purchase.

And now, just this weekend, I've discovered Shutter Sisters. Thanks to all of you for all the inspiration.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLisabeth
I know this feeling exactly. I talked myself in and out of my camera for months, finally set a financial goal (selling our extra car) and bought myself a new camera just last month. It felt incredibly indulgent, but also intensely necessary. I am thrilled to have such a wonderful tool to capture the world around me, because it is changing too fast to loose any time with shutter delay. Now if only I can learn how to use it properly.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermolly
hey, how did you climb inside me and write down all the stuff you felt in there? wierd.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbrittany
What an amazing post. I am currently saving up for a digital SLR. I have about half of the money in a box on our mantel labled "SLR Camera Fund". I know what you mean by needing it for your soul. My little point and shoot can only see so far.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCiria
Jen, you have managed to articulate the same reason I wanted and purchased my SLR, as well as a few other things, although material in nature, feed and nurture my soul. My laptop is one other of those things. Sometimes a big dense new cookbook does something similar, second hand or new.

AND, that photo above is lovely.
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterjenB
I absolutely LOVE my camera (a Nikon D70s) and have never ever regretted the purchase. Two years later I still don't understand all of the buttons and functions. But it doesn't matter. You'll love it too. Even if you confuse the gik for the goor. Happy shooting!
February 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterShalet
What a beautiful post and a beautiful photograph. Her eyes are so peaceful and calming.

"I need this for my soul" That is exactly how I am feeling while in the process of saving up my money for a digital rebel myself and justifying to myself spending that much money on a camera. But you said it soul needs it.

Thank you for this post.
February 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer
jen, your words are resonating with me so deeply. thank you for sharing with us.
February 13, 2008 | Unregistered Commentertracey
Jen, I have been blown away by your photos since you got your Rebel. You have already taken shots that make me want to weep. I would say you were meant for this new camera.

February 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSarah-Ji
Love is absolutely more than enough. I love how her innocence shines through here.
I have an original digital rebel. I was fortunate, heck, blessed! in that it just fell into my hands, my dad is a Canon contract photographer and they sent him one when it first came out. I've been photographing with it for a while now, and my favorite images are definitely the ones filled with love.
This is the year that I'm learning what the other half of the dial means! And it has been a wonderful adventure so far. I'm photographing every day, looking for the moment to capture. I think photography can be a form of meditation- I'm in that moment, recognizing the wonder of that single moment.
February 13, 2008 | Unregistered Commenternyjlm
I struggle with this. We have no money for such things and yet, I find myself longing for a DSLR. Sigh. Someday it'll happen for me as well. For now, I must simply make do. And that's OK for where I am in my life right now.

Besides, anticipation is a good thing, right?
February 13, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterElaine
oh my. this is lovely.and so exactly IT. thanks, jen.
February 14, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersheri
It doesn't sound ridiculous to me at all. It sounds like thoughts I wish I'd had the words to express myself. You summed it up beautifully.

Congratulations on your new baby! New babies (the camera kind that don't require diaper changes) are the best.
February 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAlissa
PS - three things you need to master that Rebel of your (tips from a Rebel user who was in the same exact spot a year ago)

Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson

The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby
(I liked this book so much that I have Volume two on its way to me as I type)

And Blue Crane's DVD on your new camera
(I have the Digital Rebel XT - not the XTI - and I own the DVD for that one. It's excellent for a beginner.)

I hope this helps you. These three sources were SO valuable to me.
February 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAlissa
this is just beautiful-and could have some from me. thanks you for articulating it better than I can
February 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
this is just beautiful-and could have come from me. thanks you for articulating it better than I can
February 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAmy
Wonderfully written. I'm right there with you. :) I've had my SLR now for almost 6 months and am loving it. I get a number of visitors to my blog for my photos but I still feel, like you, f-stop, etc.
February 17, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlisaschaos

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