A Mountainous Moment of Meditation

Who are you, photographer without a camera?

By: Alex Mason
October 11, 2016

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I decided to write this story in the absence of a camera. I have always had pictures and have always been more than a little awkward with words.  Unfortunately, for me, I am currently in the midst of the most amazing time of my life and I am left without a way to document it. But there are always words...I am being forced to integrate myself into the world of words if I wish to preserve these memories outside of my own head.

Two weeks ago I left my iphone 5c in a taxi. Womp. I was completely sober, I might add. And it left me thinking that maybe it was a good thing, to have a break from the ever present and sometimes even controlling smart phone. With the lack of this device I found that I was indeed addicted to always having it immediately on hand, and in hand. I could no longer wander aimlessly through an unknown city with the confidence that google maps would guide me home.  No, I did continue to wander but I spoke to more people, asking for directions and methods of transportation.  

Now, my Nikon D610 has abandoned me, left me to fend for my own. I am a photographer left without any way to take a photo. If it's possible I've been looking around and concentrating in an almost panic-driven manner to attempt to remember as perfectly as possible how everything looks, feels, and smells.  

For the past 6 or 7 years I've had the need to document everything exciting that I do, because who am I and what am I doing if I can't share it with everyone I know? It's who I am, I want to be a well known adventure photographer. How does one work towards a goal like that with a broken camera? I am nothing.  

Last night, I sat with my Workaway hosts, all of us chilled and shivering, on the rocky edge of Lake Fagnano, in the very heart of Tierra del Fuego, at the end of the world.  We watched the sun move slowly behind the last of the snow capped Andes in a shower of cloud diffused, golden, light. And I was so heartbroken and overwhelmed with the beauty that I could not capture. I could not preserve the warm light shining on my hosts' face, illuminating the steam rising from the water being poured into the cup of mate, and reflecting off of the slowly moving surface of the mountain water lake.  

The fear that I might lose the moment without a picture subsided with the sound of the birds. I sat and I watched, I breathed, taking in the cold lake air, smelling my take of mate which was also warming my face, at the limits of pure happiness and contentment, and I could not do anything about it. 



*Note: The cover photo was obviously not taken at the time of the story. It was taken a couple of months earlier in Huascarán National Park, Peru.

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.