Cameras and guns seem to be inextricably linked in many people's minds. Consider common photo terminology: 'shooting' photos, people that go out 'hunting' with their cameras, 'firing off' a few frames. The use of cameras and guns is seen as analogous. (A few months ago, while I was 'shooting' in Cambodia someone remarked that they could tell I would be a good sharp-shooter, based merely on the way I always had my camera within easy reach 'ready for action'.)
But it's never a comparison that I've been particularly comfortable with. I've shot guns before (I've even shot competitively, though I was never any good.) and I would never, ever even begin to think of pointing a gun at a person. At the same time, most of my friends can attest to the annoying presence of my cameras in their faces at the most inopportune moments.
And then, while I was in Panama, I was introduced to a whole new way of looking at it. In spanish the verb often used to describe the act of photographing is 'tomar' (to drink). To drink photos. Drink, both in its sustaining, refreshing, nourishing sense and in the sense of 'drinking in the beauty' implying time taken to pause and appreciate something on a deeper level. The idea that photography allows one to experience something more fully. Drinking it all in... through your camera. And sometimes you go out with your little point and shoot, taking a sip now and then and other days it's a head thrown back, light splashing down your shirt, guzzling of photos until finally, gasping and choking, you have to stop and catch your breath.
Drinking is also our most basic of needs, prevented from eating, drinking or sleeping, you'll die of dehydration long before hunger (interestingly, lack of sleep will also kill you before hunger). Of course, this just makes the metaphor that much more appropriate, because if I couldn't take photos I'd probably die.
And one last thing that makes this analogy so appealing to me is that now, when I sit with my camera held lightly in my hand (as I often do), I no longer have to think of gripping the cold metal of a gun, but of a warm (and comforting) cup of tea. Though lately my camera has been more of a 1,000 frames-a-day Super Big Gulp.
Consider also that when it comes to sharing your photos, would you rather share something that lets your audience taste what you tasted? Or would you like to give them something that shows what you saw, or rather what you saw right before you shot (and killed) it? For me, photos are about conveying feeling, not about displaying trophies.