Unusual Badges of Honor

Dear J-

One thing I’ll tell you about the few photography blogs I read is that equipment is a fungible asset at best. The first question that they ask is what you took that picture with, and you end up forever branded with that appelation — that (system) guy — or (noted photographer), who takes pictures in (genre) with a (system). That leads to photographic equipment envy and/or the pursuit of something unusual for the sake of being unusual. Konica Hexar. Film snob. Medium format. How many times have you heard a particular camera described as a cult camera, in much the same way that cult classic cinema is discussed?

One of the blogs I used to follow and have since stopped showed off cameras of photographers this guy would meet on th e street, but there was a specific pecking order: only film cameras, unless they were Leicas, in which case anything goes. Part of me wants to get back into the world of medium format for that same reason: credibility and pretension. Look what I have to deal with. The more enlightened out there realize that the camera is just a tool — an interchangeable tool — that let’s you capture a slice of the world around you in your specific vision. If that happens to include the characteristics of the tool you’re using, then it’s a valid tool to use.

Most of us would like to take photgraphs that most accurately reflect the way the world is around us; there are a few who do have the ability to envision the way that art filters would affect the end product, but for me that’s usually some happy accident when that turns out well. I sometimes feel like we’re in a game of one-upsmanship to see who cmes up with the most unusual way to caputre the world around us. I remind myself that I still have a medium format camera, albeit one with poor frame registration (those Koni-Omegas were known for the fragility of their film wind mechanisms) and I keep laughing at the notion of free time I seem fixated on lately.



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