Hard goodbyes: one thing I gave up to go travel / by Jessica Lee



I said goodbye to one of my babies today.

It is sad, but it had to be done.

I sold one of my beloved camera lenses in Melbourne today to finance my travels in Asia and beyond.

I figure I can make back the money one day to buy the same lens again, but I won’t ever be this young and free again to travel. Even if I were to come back a year later to travel to Asia, it wouldn’t be the same. Right now, I am single, job-less, with no attachments or obligations. I don’t have to worry about anything or anyone except for myself. The world is my oyster right now.

It’s still sad to part with one of my photography lenses however. This is the lens that I purchased after winning a series of photography competitions and going on my first paid photography gig. I bought this lens as an investment into my photography career. Apart from my plane ticket to Australia, this lens is the most expensive thing I’ve ever purchased. At first, my mom thought buying such an expensive lens was silly because she thought photography would only be a “hobby” or a “phase” for me, but I knew it would be so much more when I proved it to her by winning more photography competitions and getting my shots published.

I am in mourning right now and trying to convince myself it was the right decision to make. The lens I sold is a professional-grade lens; a Canon 24-70mm f/2.8, which is great for photographing people. However, since being on my travels, I find I have been using my kit lens more because of its wider angle. I’ve been taking photos mostly of landscapes and less of people. Even if I didn’t sell my 24-70mm lens, it would mostly be a dead weight during my trip, and I would constantly fret and worry about damaging it anyway. Selling it was the logical decision because I don’t lose much money from selling it (at most $200 CAD) and because I need quick cash now. I’m not too enthusiastic about begging for money on the street, prostitution, or busking; so selling my things comes next. Okay maybe busking would be fun, but honestly I don’t have the time to learn several songs on my ukulele by memory.

I am quite attached emotionally to this lens. It was the lens I was using when I shot Canadian Music Week in Toronto, when I met my friend and fellow photographer Laurachel, from Sydney, who was pivotal in my planning to move there. I remember many of the photos I took using this lens, even the first photo I took with it outside the camera store.

Since this is a professional-grade lens, I found that when I used it at events, I got a little more respect from fellow photographers. Now, I will look like a newbie again. Regardless, you can have all the right equipment but if you don’t know how to use it, your photos come out crappy anyway.

The lens is gone, but at least now I can eat that $3.80 cupcake without worrying if I’ve gone over my daily budget, go on day trips to islands around Indonesia, pay for kite-surfing lessons, go diving, possibly stay in a luxury hotel for one night, continue to fuel my shopping habits, eat lots of delicious breakfasts, send postcards to loved ones without worrying how much I am spending on stamps (it adds up!), take planes instead of buses…

Parting with the lens feels like a break-up. I sold it to a girl who is just starting out in photography. She doesn't even know about f stops! She just knows it is a good lens and a good deal she is getting. She saw how sad I was to say goodbye at the end and gave me a hug to console me. This is like giving up a child to adoption. I told her to take care of the lens and wished her luck.

I am sad the lens had to go, but one day, I know I can buy another one. Right now is not the time to own a nice professional lens for me. It is time to travel.