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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

La Cauma, France / Olympus E-M1, f/11 @1/80 sec, ISO 400, 24mm

I’ve spent the last week literally off my feet fighting off the flu. Six days of fever and body aches left me a little sore physically, but the good news is it’s out of my system, and I’m eager to get back out again with the camera!

I wanted to share a great post by Michael Reichman from luminous-landscape.com titled “What Matters” that summarizes the current state of the camera industry from a sales perspective – in one word, lousy.

His thoughts echoed many of my own over the past few years, the idea being that the industry has plateaued and buying more gear does not equal better images. I suggest you read the entire article, but in particular here are a few key points quoted directly from the article and worth thinking about:

  • Most cameras are better than most photographers.
  • Most cameras frustrate their owners with too much complexity and unneeded and unused functionality.
  • Most cameras are highly flawed in one way or another, but their users just don’t understand how and why.
  • It doesn’t matter what camera you have if your photography has nothing worthwhile to say.
  • A high quality lens will always trump the sensor when it comes to producing superior image quality.
  • Sensor size and high megapixel count matters little, unless one is making very large exhibition sized prints.

All of these struck a very familiar chord with me not only because I agree, but because I see them play out with students on every workshop I teach, every lecture and talk I give. Most are overly consumed with the mechanical aspects of photography, and while there is a genuine desire to reach beyond that, it seems more elusive and harder to grasp than ever before.

I think these ideas are critically important and I’ll be discussing them at my upcoming talk at the Beahive in Beacon this Saturday. I’ll also continue to write about them and offer ways to get beyond the pixels, and find meaning in your image making.

PS – There’s a huge difference between meaning in images, and meaning in image making. While both are important and offer worthwhile rewards, I think it’s only when you find meaning in your image making that you can tap your true creative potential. Or in other words, it’s the journey, not the destination where progress is made.

RR Jr

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This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. I cannot tell you the number of times I reflect on photography classes in the late ’60s I taught to low income high school students using little Kodak Instamatic B&W cameras with plastic lenses. The mechanics were as basic as you get. Sure, we taught how to secure yourself and press only the shutter release button and not the entire camera. But what mattered most was learning how to “see” and how to decide on what to convey. Without all the “gear”, what emerged was pure imagination and creativity.

    Occasionally, I try to recapture that freedom by taking out one body (preferably film), one prime lens, and limiting myself to 24 exposures — no more than two frames for any single image I want to create. Very refreshing!

    1. Great feedback and appreciate the perspective. Yes I also do similar exercises in order to simplify the process and focus more on actually seeing. I love your idea of a single lens and limiting yourself to a set number of exposures. Great for discipline and focus.
      Another tip is to tape an index card over your LCD and then go out and shoot for a while – it will literally open your eyes.

      RR

      1. I approximate the index card cover by disabling the image review function and then forcing myself NOT to push the review button. The initial struggle is like staring down that favorite ice cream or pie when trying to lose those extra pounds!! It does get easier over time and the rewards are noticeable, both on your waistline and in your image making. 🙂

      2. Yes I know the feeling, and love your analogy! That works as well – but the temptation to push the review button is so strong…

        RR

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