After another year of business. What got me exited? Here is a brief list of the best and the worst of the last twelve months-
- Sony. Who innovated this year? Who gave us product that challenged the way we think about taking pictures? Who made an effort? Sony really made us sit up and take notice with the A6000 and A7 cameras as well as continuing the RX100 line.
- Film. Who would have picked this one? More and more young photographers are shooting film, its new and experimental for them while for us older crowd its seems to fall into that feel good nostalgia category. Whatever the reason film still delivers some amazing results and although not appropriate for all circumstances it is still a great tool every photographer can master.
- Rediscovering the Hasselblad. The thing that gave me the most joy this year was shooting on the 503 Hasselblad. The square format, amazing lenses and build quality that just keeps going. Back in the day when most were shooting Mamiya, I worked for a guy who shot the ‘Blad. I asked him why, when all the other studios shot 6 x 7 and he answered because of the lenses- no argument that the T* lenses are the best medium format glass ever built.
- Getting back into shooting allowed me to use the 1Dx. Outstanding, astonishing, lightning fast and accurate- what a camera system. When it absolutely has to work first time- get a 1Dx.
- The Nikon Df. Start with a fantastic sensor and add a crippled auto focus system, then throw in the most bewildering array of dials, stir in a pinch of inaccurate metering and what do you get? A Nikon Df- try hard, try again.
- Leica T. Its a bit like one of the concept cars that never get made because someone sensible actually drives the prototype. Problem with the T is the sensible person h the day off. If you want a old sensor encased in admittedly an attractive body that costs four times as much as the easier to use and better featured A6000 then go nuts, I sure everyone will marvel at your camera not your pictures.
- Lomography. Great idea, awful cameras. I think most of us have realised that we can get a real camera that will deliver great results for almost the same price as Lomography plastic. The shine wears off quickly after you get your second or third blank roll of film back. Exceptions to this are the LCA and the Sproket Rocket but apart from these- stick to Holga.
The photography business got harder over the past twelve months but what I found was that people are appreciating good advice and good work. Customer service is never free but most of the time its worth what you pay for it. Selling cameras or shooting pictures, its a funny old game that never ceases to amaze me and my suggestion for anyone looking to get some spark back into their pictures- pick up a K1000 and shoot some FP4. It will make you smile!
The Leica M is a difficult camera to shoot well- steep learning curve. Once you get it though, you start to pull some amazing shots. The fifty wouldn’t usually be my portrait lens but in this case it is amazing. A grab shot in the shop.
Film, why shoot it? Lets face it, there is now way film can compete with modern digital cameras for commercial work where lighting is an issue. Usable ISO for film is around 800 and the colour issues under mixed lighting can be a real nightmare and imagine having to change memory cards every thirty six exposures? Trouble is I cant stop shooting it.
Film gives you an immediate look and style, its final- you need to know what you are doing and how your camera/film combo is going to react to lighting conditions. Its liberating, all the decisions are made for you leaving you free to compose.
Film still has its place commercially especially for clients looking for an authentic look or feel to their images- ask me about shooting film for portraits, nothing compares to a portrait shot on the Hasselblad using some classic black and white stock like FP4.
Film can give you a distinct look and feel which is reliable (mostly) and repeatable (hopefully), portraits, lifestyle and editorial can take on new dimensions with a bit of camera and film experimentation- a plastic camera and cross processing can deliver surprising results.