Bloody Cameras / May 2012

Earlier this evening I made a comment on twitter about the disdain I have for cameras. This was a slightly off-the-cuff and glib comment that followed an even more off-the-cuff comment regarding new cameras being released, specifically the news that Leica have released the first ever black and white digital camera.

Upon reading the headline of the press release my instant response was “What’s the point of that?” I appreciate there’s certain advantages to removing all the processing a camera has to use to work in colour, and that this should make for richer mono images. It’ll be interesting to see what the final results are, but really I suspect it’ll be the kind of difference only the photographer and a couple of other folk might notice. “What’s the point of that?” probably speaks more about how I feel about cameras, than about new releases.

Anyway, the comment on my disdain for cameras was slightly tongue in cheek, but I would like to expand upon it a little, given more than 140 characters.

I use a very, very good camera and excellent lenses, but I’ve never been into kit. I was never seduced by photography because of the gadgets, and I don’t know all the latest gear. I got into photography in my teens because I liked the magic of creating an image, and latterly because I wanted to record buildings; the way they look and the way they were being used.

If I’m photographing a building, I’ll spend some time walking around, exploring it and getting to know the space. Once I’ve had a good look, I’ll pick my spots and take photographs from there. This depends on hundreds of factors – form, composition, interesting features, the light, people and so on. Once I’ve got the frame in my head I’ll set up the camera.

This is my least favourite part – when I have to place an object between my eyes and the composition I’ve spent all this time working out. It seems completely intrusive. It’s a barrier between the connection you’ve spent time making. I love everything about a shoot and about the photography involved, except for the bit where I actually have to use a bloody camera!

It’s not the camera I don’t like, it’s the act of having to use it.

I know my camera very well, I know it’s settings inside out and adapting them to suit the conditions has almost become instinctive. It doesn’t take too long these days. I also appreciate the technology involved – really, it’s amazing what’s going on inside the camera. And, I know it’s the only way we have of creating photographs – I can’t even imagine a better way, even if technology was limitless! But still I use my camera grudgingly, because it’s the only way I have to create the images I want to create.

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