Posts Tagged ‘cameras’

Unless they can see the difference.

Many people cannot see the difference.

So, many people don’t care what camera you use.

The camera doesn’t define you, or make your work.  You do!

You define your work.  Here’s proof.  This photographer shot 100 different cameras, and yet the work all looks similar.  Because it’s not the camera.  It’s the vision.  It’s the person behind the camera.

Photographers tell us as much about themselves as they do the subject they are showing.  For essentially they are saying, “This is what I photographed, this is what I made.  This is what I like, what I value.”

Look at the photos, ideally on a big monitor and hit full screen at lower right.  It’s such a great display.

When I show my street photographs, they are a reflection of what I see and think are storytelling images.  To you, they may mean something entirely different or nothing at all, based on your life experiences, what you like and what you relate with.

We all get to finish the art for ourselves.

At a talk about a book, someone commented to the author their take on what the book meant to them, and the author corrected them, saying that’s not correct.  The person commenting protested, “Who are you to say what it means just because you wrote it?”

Another good collection of photographs is by Jason Lee, who I recently found out about online.  I knew him as an actor from My Name is Earl, but not as a photographer.  He shoots several types of film, from 35mm up to large Polaroids.


From the work I see, I’d suggest he’s a romantic, into nostalgia, and maybe a bit of a historian.  He likes things that are incongruous.  The work certainly has a theme.  Many of the images share a similar look–do you agree?

I see a big difference in the look of film versus the look of digital.  And I get lulled at times to just use the Nikon DSLR and a 20mm–I feel I can do anything with that, it’s quick and easy.  It’s always ready to make an image.

Except it can’t make film images.

And what I make–that also defines me.  And you.

This spring, I will be shooting more film than I have been this winter.  Both 120 and 4×5. Because that’s what I like.  That’s something about me.  And you’ll be able to notice that about me in the work.

Or maybe you won’t.  But I will.  And some will.   Regardless, it all comes down to the story I’m telling–what is it I did with that film medium.  Photography is a vehicle to take someone somewhere.

We have to take them somewhere interesting, while revealing a bit about ourselves.

If you like a daily affirmative talks about photography, take a look at my Inspiring Photo Talks Web Page with just that, photo talks.  Short, positive, fun talks about all things (mostly analog) photography.


Unless you’re using your phone camera in poor light, so that the image is blurry and grainy, your camera in most situations is good enough.  I’m not a proponent of using a phone camera only.  I carry a Rolleiflex 3.5F, Leica M6, M8 or Fuji X100 all the time.  Sometimes all at once.

But our camera gear is not in the way of our making great photos.  Our sleeping in on vacations (missed that golden sunrise), that shooting ordinary, uninspired scenes (and not editing them out), those are the cause of bad photos.  Because the camera is just a tool to record the moment.  And that moment, that subject, is way more important than how the well the sensor records light and micro-contrast.

I find that kind of chart-photography, pixel-peeping the bane of people who want to be photographers, but are stuck on the tech and not finding the image.  It’s out there.  You have to work to get it.  You have to go on walks.  You have to take it everywhere.  Moments will show up when you least expect them.  Have a camera with you.  Not in your bag.  Not on your shoulder.  Around your neck and turned on.

Because the moment is what the viewer is seeing, not the camera brand or megapixel count of the shot.  The emotional response is what will get the viewer every time.  Not the technical aspects.

Just like no one cared what typewriter Hemingway wrote on.  It’s just the story that counts.  Go find your story.


The cap is long gone. The case cover–no idea!

Just like I don’t buy Leica cameras to put them on a display shelf, I also don’t purposefully beat them up.  But I do strive to carry them uncased, take them everywhere, and use them, even to the point of perhaps someday, used up.  I think film cameras are beautiful in all stages of their lives, and if anything, least so when brand-new looking.  Why?  Because that says to me a camera that isn’t being used.

I am a firm believer that all items are replaceable, and while no need to bang them up and be hard on them, they don’t need to be babied.  Leicas went to war, they can handle a sprinkle on the way to the car.  Or a bump against the doorway.

So, use them well, use them a lot, and use them up.  Carry them everywhere, set them down anywhere.  Don’t worry about them.  They are not showpieces.  They are tools for the job.  The job of making photographs, saving memories, documenting history.  Our history.  Today.

A lovely patina is a mark of a cherished tool.  Use it today!


Me in 1988, working as a photojournalist for the Trenton Times, NJ.

I find that as more people abandon film, the more I love the fact that we have the tools to still use this amazing, great analog wonder.  And I feel like we are a lucky bunch who understand and embrace it.  Not to say there’s no appreciation for digital, because all my commercial work is shot digitally, but we get to play here still.  While the whole world has turned its back on film and dumped their cameras, we can pick them up, often for a song, and get to keep their tough metal gears moving forward.

I like that I am in the company of other film photographers, yourself included if you are one, too.  We have a magic box that many digital photographers have never even used.  Who have no idea how to use one.  And we get to still make magic.  A surge in demand for film has brought some back into production.

Keep on shooting.  2015 will bring a lot of photo opportunities to us. As long as we’re ready to go out and meet them.  I wish you a great photographic year.  And look forward to watching your blogs and seeing your work, too!

I’m starting a series of videos on buying older 35mm and 120 film cameras, going through my collection or else cameras I have access to, to discuss.  It’s here: Buying Used Film SLR and TLR Cameras – Let me know of your requests, and I’ll post them soon.