April 8th, 2018 … The Myth of Cameras and Other Things

Many say that any good shooter can get a great photo with any came

ra. That is the absolute truth. It’s also not the only truth. There are other truths to uncover and reasons for those truths.

As photographers, we need to have an underestanding of what our camera is. I name my cameras because I can and because I see a shrink on a regular basis. The idea for me is that the name of my camera is a metaphor for my entire process of photography. But what role does the camera really play?

The camera is a translator of light. I will not get into the controls as we all know and use them. The camera has another purpose and that is to inspire. As a translator, the camera brings to the sensor, the light from the scene. But is that all? What about emotional impact, how about the esthetic or even the graphical content? Can and does the camera capture those elements and more? How exactly does that even happen? I gotta tellyaalls, all my life I have sought and found questions. I love questions but I don’t really seek answers. Let’s assume that life is a journey of self discovery. So, while you will find many questions and should take them on one at a time. That allows us to find and process more than one answer to any given question.

I actually don’t want a real answer to anything, except what time dinner is. The question is important and the journey to find an answer is life and the answer, while it may annswer the question, it can’t ever be complete.

So, hopefully you follow me here and see what it means to photography and to your time above ground. I take Mom the Ricoh GRII out and I am intoxicated. I am in a zone that happens on first touch with the camera and actually last for a looooong time.  It makes myhand float like some kinda vessel and I just watch the screen as we make the frame. Snap focus and that’s it. It’s all about seeing and feeling.

The Fuji X-Pro2 is named Walker after Walker Evans.  The camera has a very professional feel to it. Really, it’s an amazing camera cause even in the rain or snow, it does what ya want a camera to do in adverse conditions as well as good conditions.  It’s nice to have interchangeable lenses. I use the EVF mostly.  Just let me get the meat going….. just a min, trust me, I’m not lost.

The Leica M240. Gotta tell ya, I have used Leica’s  the better part of 48 years. That doesn’t make it right, it just means a long time running. I’m not even gonna push the Leica or any other camera. You have your own and good.

Ok, we have the pc and the software that takes care of the processing. It’s basically a constant.  We have the scenes out there that we work and it’s a inconsistant constant.  I was told by some mentors and Isee now that many people teach, see something as if it was the first time your seeing it. Well, it doesn’t mean work a street corner and next time jump from a roof so you can see it for the first time the next time. I have tried this many times and failed. My uncle Birney told me many years ago, that it means you have a poisened mind. So, I call that exercise bullcrap. It’s impossible or is it? Well, not totally either way.

So, there always is a common denominator in life but that’s not always what we need. Sometimes we need to cut the edge with a new way of thinking. So, if we have the pc and processing running and we have our streets (anything you call subject)….working, how do we change our way of thinking and seeing?

Enter the camera. If you let your camera be your friend instead of a tool, you will find that your synergysm with your camera, will start to awaken the interior thoughts and feelings that you can find out there and get into your photos. some of the shooters I mentor insist that the camera is a tool and that they command it’s use.  It makes me sad when I come across someone that thinks this way. I mean, it’s like there’s no attachment and kinda feeling like the master of their universe. So sad. I often wonder how they are with people and family.

Then there are those that come and start off feeling like the master of their world and after some time and some chatting, things start to change. Usually a slow process but what’s interesting….we share photos on Saturday Breakfast, and I can see the progression in the work as they become more human with a camera. There is a definite visual progression that becomes obvious to all. On the other hand, my friends that insist on having a tool as a camera, usually but not always, the work is at a stagnant point. That’s why we meet anyway so it’s ok.

I think for most humans, not politicians or lawyers etc, the compass should be our guide. So, as you walk the streets with your camera, and seek your photos, your camera is the conector between you and your lifes work and your images. It’s this way for everyone, like it or believe it or not. If this is truth and it is Gospel as photopgraphers should believe, how is it possible to disrespect photography and Mother Light by having your camera be a tool? Oh my, how can one disrespect themselves that way? Look, I’m old enough to realize that there are many ways to approach things. That’s not the issue. The issue is, that I express myself and hang my um…. on the wall. You may or may not agree but you know where I stand. When I was younger and totally engrossed with photography, I loved it all, every single part.’ I don’t love it anymore, I LIVE it.

I go out to shoot almost daily. I walk my miles and make photos, not many but enoough to keep me above ground. I am connected and my camera helps me feel at one. I get home and shelf the camera and I start to feel lost. I start almost immediately missing my work and my life.

Be Blessed everyone and I hope you find the light to make you excited and maybe name your camera.


10 thoughts on “April 8th, 2018 … The Myth of Cameras and Other Things”

  1. Hi Don,

    To the nub of it, for me, is succinctly revealed within your words, and I quote “… The question is important and the journey to find an answer is life and the answer, while it may annswer the question, it can’t ever be complete…”, because every day has it’s own circumstances and throws up its own forks in the road, and in sum, it’s a different experience.

    All these things are interconnected bits, not like jigsaw pieces because they demand ordered interconnectedness.

    I point a finger at the unstructured order of a random and organic interconnectedness – one that makes our question be the fuel that feeds the fire in our journey towards seeking and securing that slippery elusive answer.


    1. Sean, once again…. thanks for your insight. It seems to me that many shooters are so engrossed in photography that they don’t place life first. Maybe they keep things separate because it’s easier to just turn on photography and turn it off. Doing things that way avoids the connection altogether. I know your not that kind of man and neither am I. Without the connection, nothing thrives or survives.

      Next issue has you in it.
      Cheers my friend

  2. Solid Essay Don, a delight to read and i can feel the rawness in what your saying and sharing


    1. Thanks much my friend. It all kinda just pours out and I feel the need to share. I’m glad you get it….

  3. To misquote George Orwell, all cameras are equal to the task but some cameras are more equal than others. The affinity you feel whether you name your cameras or not comes from the experience and knowledge that you have picked up the right camera for the day and that you are aware of its possibilities as much as its limitations. The mistaken notion of the camera as a ‘tool’ comes from confusing the Western materialist concept of “ownership” with exchange value – we don’t really “own” anything, we are merely caretakers for a little while just as we are the caretakers of the planet we live on, as you say while we are above the ground. As for seeing things, often the camera sees things you don’t.

  4. Beautiful.
    A while ago,you told me I should name my cameras.
    Well, I have. There’s Carly the xe2 and Tony the xt1.
    It’s made a difference.
    Cheers,Take Care.

    1. Ian, you make my day. I’m glad that not only did you name your cameras but also feel a difference. The force is with you Ian, use the force.

  5. “I go out to shoot almost daily. I walk my miles and make photos, not many but enough to keep me above ground. I am connected and my camera helps me feel at one. I get home and shelf the camera and I start to feel lost. I start almost immediately missing my work and my life.”

    Same for me…….

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