Rants and discussions

Happiness and photography gear

Caught on a car boot sale camera (Kodak Retinette II) and poundland film.

An old gripe of mine.  Allow me to express it again, as a warning to others.

Don’t be sucked into spending money on gear that doesn’t have value in terms of your happiness.  Most of us are enthusiasts and amateurs.  There is nothing inferior about that.  Our enthusiasm can be based on either photographic technology, or on photographic images.  In truth, most of our enthusiasm lays somewhere between those two poles – some more by the technology, some more by photographs.  Either way, what really is important – or should be, to us enthusiasts, is happiness.

It is all so easy, and very common, for novices to be drawn towards spending more money, in the pursuit of happiness.  However, they do not always get what they wanted.  They may find, that their photography doesn’t really improve much.  They might find that spending another grand, allows them to capture some images in slightly poorer light, perhaps slightly closer, perhaps slightly further away, or perhaps with slightly more resolution.  No doubt there is a short lived gratification “I couldn’t have caught that on my last lens / body”.  Wow, look at that moon surface / macro of a bug / etc.  Cool images.  However, does this expensive imagery really enhance your creativity or skill base?  Once you’ve got closer to the moon, what is next?  How much did that image cost in monetary terms?  Has it been done before?  Is someone doing it better with even more expensive, or newer gear?

How much happiness do you think that I’ve had out of the 50p camera project?  Compare it to the purchase of a new upgrade DSLR camera.  The DSLR might have cost you around £500.00.  My XA2 snapshot camera cost £00.50.  Okay, I’ve also used film, but mainly budget or home developed.  Still, how much happiness do you think that the DSLR gives you in comparison?  I’m quite proud of some of the photographs that I’ve got out of the XA2.  They may be lo-fi but some are pretty cool and even unique.  I’ve tried to be creative.  Not always an easy thing for me.  There are no attachments or upgrades for it.  For the DSLR, you bet that you are going to desire new lenses, extensions, flashlights, bags, battery grips, etc.

That is the chief message of this blog.  Think, don’t just spend.

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Film

Photography – my local, my style

The Time Traveller

The Empire Strikes Back

This follows on from my last post, in which I discuss Eric Kim’s excellent blog post: How to be Happy in All Circumstances in Photography.  Eric didn’t just discuss happiness in relationship to Gear constraints.  He also discusses happiness in photography, in relation to other constraints such as location and available time.

We don’t all live in a Mecca of Street Photography, such as New York.  I’ve been guilty of this one myself.  I live in the sticks, the provinces.  Crap end of the English Fens.  Not exactly urban decay.  And yet, what an idiot that makes me.  Who said that Street needs to be urban big-city?  When I open my eyes, I’m living on the edge of a small town that has clearly seen better, more lucrative times, when it was a port on the Wash.  In addition to the local decay, the town is full of local English characters, blending nicely next to crowds of recent immigrants from across the European Union.  I have tonnes of local material, who needs New York?  I can capture history, I can try to capture the feeling and atmosphere of small town provincial Eastern England.

The point is to enjoy doing this.  To make photography fun, hopefully sometimes creative or aesthetic, but also to have fun.  Some people might feel the need to buy the latest Canikon fullframe DSLR, complete with a suitcase of lenses, and of course, a whopping big Canikon emblazoned camera back pack.  But do they really have more fun than I do with my battered 50p Olympus XA2 pocket camera and home developed b/w film?

This is kind of leading me to that other sought after thing – personal style.  I feel that a lot of people miss out on this point. They are often subconsciously directed by the media, to produce the same sort of images as each other.  Shiny, sharp, beautiful colours.  Heavy post process software manipulation – you can see where many follow the same guides and tutorials from the same magazines and websites.  Maybe I’m being unfair to criticise this school of photography.  Perhaps because I am such an untidy, messy, archaic person in Life – this messiness and imperfection shows in my photography.  I simply can not be bothered with creating the perfect still photography.

So that is my style – as I am.  Messy, politically conscious, interested in people, and of course tight fisted.  All photographs on this post taken with the battered 50p Olympus XA2 pocket camera and bathroom developed b/w 35mm film.

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Uncategorized

Tight fisted happiness in all circumstances in photograpy

Bronica SQ-A. Zenzanon PS 80mm f/2.8. Shanghai GP3 film. Developed in Rodinal.

This post is in response, or perhaps, in agreement, with Eric Kims blog post:   How to Be Happy in All Circumstances in Photography.

All that I know, is that I keep reading the same sort of questions and answers online.  “Which is best?  The Canikon ZX or the Canikon XZ?”.  “I’m an intermediate photographer, which lens should I buy next?”.  “I am an intermediate / advanced photographer, how should I go full frame?”.  “My camera is three years old, should I upgrade?”.

What the feck?  Where do all of these people get programmed to think like this?  Unless you are taking photographs for a taxable living income, or at the very least, for a substantial amount of the cost of your living – you, like I, are an amateur.  Amateur is not a dirty word.  It means for the love of…  Unless you are a professional, then you are an amateur, and you take photographs for enjoyment.  There is nothing wrong with that.  If you wish, you can be really enthusiastic.  You can be incredibly creative.  You don’t need to take wedding photos for a living – just enjoy the experience.  Embrace your freedom to be eclectic.

I love Eric’s post.  It echoes my own over the past few years, that you can escape the rat race of the upgrade culture.  You do not need that latest fullframe DSLR.  You do not need that high end lens.  Unless your particular chosen school of photography is a technology driven one – such as Nature, Macro, or Sports photography – you do not need that latest model of full frame DSLR, nor that ultra expensive lens, tripod, or camera bag.

Just enjoy and create with what you have.  Seek enjoyment.  Seek creativity and expression.  Seek the unexpected.  Enjoy photography, don’t just consume because you have been programmed to do so.  Protest.

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