he Tight Fisted Photographer speaks. Pentax SP500 Spotmatic. Super Takumar 55mm f/2 lens. Rollei Retro 400S b/w film. Developed in R09.
Most of us here are enthusiasts – amateurs, you photograph for the love of it. What are we hoping to achieve? We enjoy capturing light, we enjoy making still images, that perhaps, we find interesting, or attractive. Perhaps they document something that others might enjoy looking at. Perhaps they tell … or even suggest, a story. We might like them for hidden patterns, their tones, their colours, or for their visual mathematics We might appreciate the composition. The perfect photograph. It makes us look, we appreciate it.
Now that I have conveyed that opinion to you, here is a horror story all too common.
Kim is attracted into photography. She uses a compact camera, family members and friends tell her that she has a gift. She buys an entry level DSLR, because everyone does. Her photography doesn’t improved particularly at first, but she is intelligent and competent, and masters the controls of her DSLR. In that pursuit, she picks up shiny photography magazines from the superstore. They tell her, what she already feared. In order to improve further, she needed to buy a better lens. The kit lens was too slow, distorted, and awful. Suddenly her lens – and even her images, appear less spectacular, a bit imperfect. They needed to be sharper, more detailed.
So Kim works overtime, goes without evenings out, decides not to holiday (vacation) in such an exotic place. Pity, she could have had some great photographic opportunities there. She buys a “great lens”. Faster, less distortion, wow, this’ll do it. But then she reads the newest issue of the magazine. Her camera is entry level. You can’t progress to advanced photography with a beginner DSLR. The sensor is too small Kim. A larger sensor will capture more IQ. Best scrap that holiday altogether. Best cut out the car upgrade, its going to be a tough year.
She buys a full frame DSLR. Hang on, she’ll need new lenses. You know where this story is going. How else can she produce those sharp, full detailed, perfectly exposed images. It doesn’t stop. her software is entry level. She needs a licence for the newest Adobe package. Best start budgeting tight.
Then suddenly Kim has lost her interest in photography. There was something missing in her photography. She did everything right – followed all of the HDR and RAW tutorials in the magazines. Her images were glossy, highly detailed, sharp as a pin, technically perfect. People would congratulate her on her wise choice of gear. What could be missing?
It isn’t all about sharpness, detail, technical perfection. Not for every school of photography. We are creating images. You can create images with a pinhole camera. You can create images on a disposable film camera. You can create images on an IPhone. All can contain beauty and interest. The great photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson were far from technically perfect. But they were often astonishing.