There is an episode of Frasier where Frasier and Niles are talking about age. Frasier says that he’s only middle aged, to which Niles quips that would only be true were he planning on living to 110 (or some such, I don’t have the exact quote). From my vantage point in my mid 50s it’s clear that there just isn’t time to fit in everything I’d like to do, especially as I’ve got a job to fit in as well. So…
- I’m never going to go to art school
- I’m not going to have an artistic career
- I’m not going to be one of the people you see in gallery cafes clearly talking to other arts people about arts things
- I’m not going to work on cool digital graphics projects for movies
- I’m not going to…
Well you get the idea. There are lots of things it would be great to do, and if I was having my time over again knowing what I know now I’d probably do them. But I’ve got to face the fact that I’m not and in a way I’m sort of okay with that because I’ve accepted that in a way I can do all of the above as a hobby without the pressure of making a living off them. So my creative endeavours are really one vast personal project, with no pressure to please customers, art directors, critics or pay the mortgage.
One of the great sayings about photography is that it’s not about the camera. Actually, sometimes it is, if you’re shooting for Vogue then using a £50 point and shoot probably isn’t going to hack it. In the broadest sense though it’s always true, if you watch the Cheap Camera Challenge on Digital Rev you get to see top pro-togs (their phrase) using the direst cameras and getting great results. If you haven’t watched this series then I’d really recommend it. The camera is the tool: the skill and experience of the snapper is what makes the difference.
Personally, I’ve realised how right this is.
After years of shooting film we got our first digital camera, a Fuji Finepix S5000, not top of the line by any means. Took adequate photos, though I never felt that happy with the results. I’ve taken photos for years but a few years ago I decided to take it seriously and, you know, practice and be more self critical. After a while I found myself in a position to upgrade to a DSLR and got an EOS 450d which is much better than my Fuji and which I’ve used a lot. Last week I was up in London and took the Fuji because it’s small and light, and if something happens it’s not a significant loss (though having seen the second had price of the 450d on EBay that’s not as big a concern). It’s got really slow autofocus, and low resolution by modern standards, and a really crap digital viewfinder. But when I was looking at my results I realised something.
I’d taken better photos on my old Fuji than I was taking on my EOS when I first got it
Clearly I’d improved as a photographer far more than I realised I had – as a result of my own “cheap camera challenge” I’d proved it really isn’t about the camera.