Regrets, I’ve Had a Few: Rationalizing a Blogging Mistake

Took this photo with my phone. Gillespie Beach - New Zealand
Took this photo with my phone. Gillespie Beach – New Zealand

I’ve been at this Hey Eleanor thing for nearly a year and a half, and there’s one thing I know for sure: I still have a lot to learn.

I picked up quickly on some things. For example, don’t post huge blocks of content. Break it up.

Like this.

And this. See, didn’t that feel less daunting to read? Post consistently. Rename your images from IMG_27583.jpg to something more descriptive, like bungy-jump-new-zealand.jpg. Search engines like that. Speaking of photos, people love pictures.

Use lots of beautiful, consistently-sized images.

When I launched this site, I told myself, who cares if it’s not perfect. Just start posting. It was the best strategy for getting my blog up and running. I had no vision for what I wanted my site to look and feel like. I knew what I wanted to write about, and I had a URL. If you are thinking about starting a blog, knowing what you want to write about is ALL YOU NEED to just start the damn blog already. You can pretty it up over time.

But back to images.

Since I initially focused on getting words online, I didn’t care much about images. I relied on my iPhone for photographic evidence of my Hey Eleanor challenges. It was small and already in my purse. But to be honest, my photos were rarely blog-worthy.

A few months in, I committed to using better photography in every post, and I started bringing my fancy Sony DSLR everywhere.

My photos went from this:

Chatting with the nice Mormon guys who were trying to save my soul.
Chatting with the nice Mormon guys who were trying to save my soul.

to this:

Here, fishy fishy fishy!
Here, fishy fishy fishy!

Much better.

The thing is, the camera is heavy and awkwardly sized. It’s annoying to lug around, especially when traveling. I always have it in my carryon, and by the time I get to my gate with computer and camera in tow, my arm has fallen off.

As you probably know, Josh and I honeymooned in Australia and New Zealand. We never spent more than three nights in one place, so repacking and moving was a thing throughout the trip.

I left my fancy camera at home.

On purpose!

I just didn’t want to deal with it. Besides, I’d just upgraded to the new iPhone 6, which has an awesome camera. And we brought our Go Pro, so I think we’re covered on photos, thanks.

During the trip, I had only a few moments where I truly longed for my real camera. We hiked, kayaked and got eaten alive by sandflies all unencumbered by my wonky DSLR. It was fabulous.

The Great Barrier Reef as seem from 30K feet! Such a cliche photo, but too good to not share. 
The Great Barrier Reef as seem from 30K feet! Such a cliche photo, but too good to not share.

I still took photos with my phone, annoyingly instagramming stunning beaches and mountains with glee! The panoramics from my iPhone? Gorgeous.

Made it to the top of Key Summit!
Made it to the top of Key Summit!

However, when we returned home and I started pulling the images up on my computer, these vista-type shots look like absolute crap. Pixelated, fuzzy and just a plain ol’ buzzkill.

And that’s when the regret set in.

I left my camera at home on purpose?! What was I thinking? UGH.

Andrew put it perfectly last week when we were recording our podcast, You mean to tell me you went to the most beautiful place on earth and you didn’t bring your nice camera?

Yep, I did.

After I quit beating myself up for being such a big, dumb idiot, I thought about how I felt on the trip. The entire point was to hang out and have fun with my husband, not take pictures for my blog.

Josh and I in Sydney, captured by a phone or Go Pro. I have no idea which.
Josh and I in Sydney, captured by a phone or Go Pro. I have no idea which.

If you’ve ever been serious about your photography, you know that experiencing an event while behind a camera is so much different than just being there. There’s a barrier between you and everything else. You are less present (or at least that’s been my experience). Josh and I spent two-plus weeks in the most beautiful place on earth without that little voice in the back of my head constantly telling me that I should turn every cool moment into something photographable.

The iPhone 6 didn't disappoint here! And it fit in my pocket.
The iPhone 6 didn’t disappoint here! And it fit in my pocket.

I’m thankful for that.

Between our phone pics, Go Pro footage and images we bought from a few of our excursions, I think we returned home with some excellent photos. Do I wish I had a few more crisp, pretty photos to work with? In a word, duh. But I was happier in the moment, and that counts for something.

And so again I ask…

What’s more important: the photos or real life?

I gotta go with real life, every time.

That said, my crapola pics got me thinking about purchasing a small and sassy camera that I can easily toss in my bag. Any recommendations? I’m thinking something like this Sony Alpha NEX-C3.

* * *

PS Here’s another time I wished I’d prioritized real life instead of the pictures.

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Comments (10)

  • Melissa Joulwan 6 years ago Reply

    I love this post because you came to an awesome conclusion: life trumps blog any time!

    But so you don’t feel too bad about leaving your camera at home…
    When we went to Prague for the release of Well Fed in Czech, I left my laptop at home. I thought I’d just do my book-related events and spend the rest of the time on vacation with my fantastic husband. It would be holiday with just a little work.


    It just so happened that that week was the final proofreading week of our Well Fed magazine. We were sent a 12-page document of suggested edits for the magazine that I had to review, then decide if they should be made and somehow communicate those to the designer. If I’d had my laptop, it would have been 30 minutes of quick text changes in an InDesign file. Instead, we had to review the document on Dave’s iPad, take notes long hand, then use the tiny keyboard he can attach to his iPad to type the notes, then he emailed that to me, and I emailed it to the designer — who then had to make the text changes on my behalf. We did that process TWICE in three days. It took, like, 2 hours each time.

    Total cluster. Totally my fault. I doubt I’ll ever travel without my laptop again — just in case.

    molly mogren katt 6 years ago Reply

    Melissa, that sounds like torture! Although some lessons must be learned the hard way.

    I always begrudgingly bring my dumb laptop everywhere because I know the one time I don’t will be the time I need it. I’m considering getting a MacBook Air (or whatever those are called) because they’re so small and light and seem less annoying to deal with.

  • Katie Dohman 6 years ago Reply

    Highly, highly, highly recommend our Panasonic LUMIX. Not quite as small as some point-and-shoots out there, but has the added bonuses of a Leica lens and manual mode. It is a GEM. Basically a small camera with a big camera personality.

  • Meghan Conlin 6 years ago Reply

    If you want small and high quality, especially since you already have the DSLR for other times, take a look at the Sony RX100. I don’t have one, but I’ve used it a few times and really liked it.

    molly mogren katt 6 years ago Reply

    Thanks for the rec. By the way, I am loving how all of these tiny camera are so retro looking!

  • Lifestyle Healer 6 years ago Reply

    I am ALWAYS so torn taking pictures in beautiful places, because you are so right that it alters your personal experience. I always think that I am not getting sucked into picture framing up and taking mode, but even when I make myself put the camera down I am thinking about it, itching to take another picture. Thanks for sharing the truth of it all!

    I did eventually get a tiny pocket sized point and shoot camera so I could leave the big lenses at home. I got a Nikon Coolpix years ago and it has served me pretty well. Of course, small camera technology has come lightyears since I bought it.

  • Jordan Dockendorf 6 years ago Reply

    I struggled with this on my trip as well. When I came upon amazing sights, I maybe snapped one or two iPhone photos or a pic on my (crappy) camera I bought for underwater use but I had to remind myself – no matter how the photos turn out, nothing will ever compare to actually seeing it with my own two eyes.

    So in the end I don’t have the "best" photos but I decided to leave that up to travel photographers. Instead I have the best experiences and I wouldn’t change a thing!

    Regardless, your photos were beautiful so I can only imagine how much more amazing it is in real life. It inspires me to see it for myself. Thank you!

  • Tera C 6 years ago Reply

    I can’t go anywhere with beautiful landscapes without my camera. I do agree that the experience is always better, but I like to debate whether to take the camera when I’m leaving the hotel room for the day. Do you think you’d take your camera if you went again tomorrow?

    I’d recommend the Sony Nex-7 or second the RX100. I use the first religiously and hear consistently good things about the latter.

    molly mogren katt 6 years ago Reply

    Oh yeah, I definitely would bring it "next time I go to New Zealand." Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Stephanie Z 5 years ago Reply

    I’m certain you made the right choice. You get one honeymoon. "Go back to New Zealand"

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