Many years ago, I went to buy a hi fi system. I didn’t want any cheap music box. I wanted to hear pure sound. The shop welcomed me with open arms – here was a genuine hi fi enthusiast. No fancy surround sound. Not six channels, just two. Plain and simple with a “soundstage” experience.
I was hooked. And I remain so today. No wow & flutter, no snap, crackle & pop: just pure sound in fine detail.
A great image is like great music. Listening to Wagner, absorbed in the fine detail of the performance through a high quality hi fi system. Exquisite.
And it occurs to me that looking at a great photo is the same experience. Fine detail in the image, inviting closer inspection, detecting subtle nuances that the detail brings to the story. Colour or mono: different colours or shades, different emotions. Absorbing. Inviting.
But then the question that is always popping up… “What am I going to do with my pics?”
Perhaps Instagram, Flickr, Facebook… 24 hours of fame, if I’m lucky, and my small circle of “friends” likes what they see. Here was a culture of instant fame, instant gratification.
I entered this world with high hopes of my photography being seen, applauded even. I became addicted to “likes”, to the #hashtag communities. I would rise in the morning and rush to see how many “likes” I had accumulated overnight (when the rest of the world was mostly awake) and OMG if someone had commented on a photo!!
I would check out a particular #hashtag to see what others were posting and what level of “likes” and comments were out there – but not there for me! Mostly disappointment. And how on earth did this or that photo get noticed more than mine?
But my expectations were always doomed to “failure” because I should have realised that photos in Flickr and Instagram had the lifecycle of a gnat – once the image passes the viewer’s narrow time slot it disappears into a black hole. Very unlikely to be viewed again.
But they were drugs of dependence: “favourite” you, “favourite” me; follow you, follow me.
So, I started to question my motives and expectations and I escaped from Flickr and Instagram.
I then started to question my kit.
I read an article a short time ago about whether a smartphone was a camera. More specifically, can a phone camera be considered a “real” camera.
The author discussed iPhone 7/8 and the likes of Google Pixel 2 and the list could go on. He has come to the conclusion that his iPhone has become his secondary camera (“my other car is a Mercedes”).
He calls it “Phone Photography” and he is supportive, not negative (pun not intended but enjoyed nonetheless!).
You can read the article by Terry Burnes here. It is worth it.
But my point (in extended support of Burnes) is that the tool/instrument in the hand is irrelevant. If it wasn’t for EXIF data most photos would be anonymous, incognito, silent as to their source. The photo should be appreciated for itself, not its origins.
And ultimately it should be appreciated by yourself. Therein lies your greatest critic. Mine anyway.
So, I gave my Canon 5DIII and some excellent glass to my daughter. She is enjoying it and starting her own journey in photography. I’m continuing with my Leica Q supplemented by an older Leica D-LUX.
And, of course, my trusty iPhone 7 Plus.