I will Never own a Tripod: My Photographic Intentions
I don’t really want to be a photographer — not the type that springs to mind when you hear the word, with slew of gear around his neck, a tripod bigger than he is and a car full of lights and backdrops.
Instead I want to excel at candid, spontaeous photogrpahy. For my own pleasure, at least, and who knows what else. Let me take you back a couple of months and describe how I arrived at this surety.
At the age of 34 I’ve been suddenly swept up by a strong infatuation. I’ve always been the obsessive type — sinking myself various creative endeavours over the years — but this is something even more. In a life of creative and professional stagnation, photography feels like a deep, invigorating breath.
On my way in transit, I spend extra hours each day simply looking for and taking photographs. I’m excitied because I know those 10,000+ hours toiled in other creative endeavours are suddenly, suprisingly, not lost. That, and my habit of meandering, eyes open, situate me perfectly for new creative fulfilment.
I need it. What creative outlet could be more satisfying than photography — each one a blank slate of infinte possibilty, finalised in a milisecond. I have the head start of years of creative practice. I’m ready. It’s time.
It started when I told Eiko I was thinking of buying a new camera. I needed a new reason to take photos, and the DSLR I had was nearly ten years old. Eiko suggested I consider mirrorless. I hadn’t even thought of that. I’d read before about the GF1, and was vaguely aware of a new world of photographic possibility, but this skated around my field of awareness so that I still associated quality with full-frame DSLR.
I researched and researched, starting with Craid Mod’s articles on the Lumix micro four thirds cameras. I bought a second hand Gx1 and a kit zoom for $320, and enjoyed it for a few weeks before biting the bullet with the more recent GX7, followed by two fast primes. There went my savings.
I’m most alive when I’m learning something new, throwing myself sleeplessly into a creative possibility with unhampered potential. But as much fun as I’ve had since — there has been a LOT — there are times when I worried if photography is for me. That is when I stray into the type of photography I was not born for, try and largely fail to capture challenging natural views, or when I start to wonder if I’ll have to become a wedding photographer doing group portraits.
There’s nothing worse than a love that turns to fear through tedious repetition. The best thing in your life can become the worst if creative input is replaced by a boring breif.
There are plenty of other photographers who like to take neat, clean photographs. This isn’t the type of photograph that I’m interested in. It’s not the style of photography I’m attracted to. I fully recognose the place for it, but I’m going to save myself a lot of pain and declare, more or less from the beginning, that it’s not for me.
I’ll never need an intimidating DSLR weighing on shoulders or a tripod on my back. Instead I’ll roam free, holding in my right hand the best mirrorless I can afford (currently the GX7 with the Panasonic Leica lenses, although ‘afford’ would be stretching things a bit).
I’ll use what the world has provided me as creatively as I can, but I won’t control a thing. I’ll stop telling my girlfriend to turn around, step forward, move a little to the left. “OK now smile again, just like before.” I’ll nip that in the bud.
I wont try to photograph picturesque beauty, because my camera and skills won’t do it justice while many others’ will. Instead I’ll look out for the hidden interest in a scene; the spontaneous miracles of life; the real. I’ll make it look cool when I can, but I’ll do my best to find something worth sharing, and a reason to share it (I’m still confused about this).
I wonder if there’s a market for this type of photographer. I know it can be art — but I wonder if it can be a service. I’d like to work alongside other photographers perhaps, capturing the more spontaneous side of things.
Let’s see where this takes me. But for now, let me reiterate, I’ll never have a tripod or a boot full of gear. I’d rather have noisy, real photos than polished, controlled ones.
I’ll have a compact in my right hand and my eyes fixed on the world.