I know a photographer named Bert. Bert is a graphic designer by profession, an ImageMaker, and an incredibly productive artist. He once did a series on close-ups of automobile headlights that was conceived of, completed, and hanging on museum walls, all in the space of six or eight months. He went on vacation last year, found a graffiti-covered wall, made a series of images, presented them at ImageMakers, moved on, and never looked back.
I work in series of about five years duration, dealing with sidetracks and dead ends that take months.
For almost all his current work, Bert uses a little point and shoot camera.
I spend a lot of time and money making sure I have just the right photographic tools for the job.
There’s part of me that envies Bert. I imagine what it would be like to wake up in the morning, get an idea, try it out, refine it, work through all the variations, make a set of prints, and break for lunch. Then sanity returns, and I realize that I can only be the kind of photographer I am. Trying to be some other artist, no matter how much I would like to work like that person, would be fruitless.
This particular situation probably doesn’t apply to you. However, when I attend portfolio reviews, I am struck by the number of photographers who are trying to emulate someone else. It usually doesn’t work very well for them.
Mike Nelson Pedde says
Touché! I like to look at the work of other photographers because sometimes it gives me ideas for my own work, but I can never ‘be’ them so I don’t even try. There’s an old saying that goes, “I tried to teach you to be yourself, but I find that I cannot. I can only teach you to be me, for I am the only model that I have.”
Among my cameras I still have an old Yashica Mat 124G double lens reflex camera – 6cm x 6cm image size, fixed focal length lens (zoom with your feet) and waist level finder. A roll of 120 film gives me exactly 12 images. Whenever 35mm, with zoom lenses and auto-everything seems to be too ‘easy’ or I need a challenge, I haul out the Yashica as it forces me to slow down and to seriously evaluate the value of every image I make before I click the shutter. Most of my work is landscape, so that’s not a problem. Having said that, I also use my little point and shoot and even my cell phone camera if I need to capture something in a pinch.