I’m not a good tourist. I feel like I need a reason, a purpose, a focal point or point of contention. Internal unrest, mental not physical, at least for now. Forcing myself forward, step by step, ignoring certain things, certain people and fixating on others until they feel my need and it all goes away. Why would you walk with a lens cap on? After all these years I’m not sure. Like an infantryman carrying his rifle with a pool cue in the barrel. Makes it somewhat difficult to achieve the desired result and yet there these mysterious creatures are.
Something unfamiliar in my hand, but I’m working on that. Like new shoes I feel the visual blister forming. It demands it’s own dialogue. I can’t speak to it in the same language I normally use. Clarity from the clutter is more difficult with the little beast, so I need to change the way I see, the way I layer and the way I look for light.
I break things into mental quarters to give myself a helping hand. “In the end..the machines always win.” Yes, true but as humans we all want to fight the good fight. A guy blows $400(Australian) on a slot machine next to me. Like a kiss from a stranger. That love was never really his, wasn’t in his wallet long enough. A few flicks of a finger, a few spinning dials and it’s gone forever. Remember what they say about the machines.
I like being here because it is a challenge and I actually do feel like I’m doing good. “Please remain calm, we are here to help,” coupled with “Beatings will continue until moral improves.” I make photographs and I make books, a lot of each. I like to share why, how and then revisit the why. Sometimes I don’t want do either but yet there they are, the camera in hand the nonstop mental editing and then the smell of ink on paper. I tell people I jokingly call it a “curse” but I’m not really joking. I watch others moving through life with a different filter and I wonder “why me?”
Why do I need to report, record and resolve? I wander into a gambling hall and face backwards staring into the souls of the men watching the ponies with a focus that only comes with money on the line. I don’t gamble but I’m fascinated by those who do. Crumpled bits of paper, hands sweeping across sunken eyes and stubble. There is always another race, another day, another bet. The energy in the room is a palpable strain of uncertainty and guilt. “In the end…the machines will always win.”
Say what you will about digital photography, but I would never have made any of these images if I wasn’t using a digital camera. As you can see, these are not great images, but they are snapshots that reflect a certain place at a certain time and provide my journalistic mind with tidbits of visual memory that I so desire. I’ve only had this little camera for a few days now, haven’t made anything great with it, not sure I ever will, but I already know what this little camera is and what it isn’t. I also realize it was never intended to be more than it is regardless of our expectations, desires or ideals. These images were made on an hour-long walk from my hotel up toward the old parliament building here in Melbourne. I had no plan other than to get out. I was locked in with the hot, midday sun and subsequent harshness that accompanies this time and place.
This camera isn’t a Leica, nor does it replace a film camera. No digital camera replaces a film camera. This camera doesn’t provide a negative. I can see the images as I make them and I can shoot endless photographs by just adding more and more storage media. A film camera doesn’t provide an instant preview and limits me, in a good way, with limited exposures based on how much film I can carry. My film cameras fire at any time with ZERO hesitation. This little camera does not. My film cameras are built like tanks, have hyper fast autofocus(some) and require no computer time unless I want to use them in tandem with technology. This little camera requires the computer, and in most cases, a significant amount, as do all other digital cameras. My 35mm film camera is indestructible, has the best meter, autofocus and ease of use of any camera I’ve ever had. This little camera doesn’t come close but it is 1/3 the size, weight and girth of my film camera and can be carried for days on end without a thought. This little camera is also inconspicuous, and again provides an entirely different set of parameters because it’s DIGITAL.
These tools are polar opposites.
This camera will never be an M6, 35mm and TRI-X no matter how much you want it to be. You can’t set this camera on square format and get a Hasselblad no matter how much you want to be able to do this, and no matter how much post processing you provide. These are simply different machines. Having said all this, my new little camera is great, I’m glad I have it, and it will find it’s way into the rotation like a knuckleball pitcher. Did I mention the size, weight and style?
Will I make bold proclamations about “this is finally the camera that kills film?” Why would I even want to do that? Who wants to kill film? What benefit would that serve the photography world?
If you want a film look but a film camera. If you want to shoot digital this camera is a really good option at a good price and is easy to use. It doesn’t entirely get out of your way when you are working with it, but it’s pretty darn good. I’m already happy I have it and look forward to actually using it when I have time to focus on “real” work, images, places. I’ll take it to New Mexico in June and see what is what. Until then I’ll continue to get used to it and I’ll continue to use it for my little, color sketchbook.
I think these images are further proof that wandering around attempting to make great images is really damn hard, at least for ME. They remind me why I don’t shoot street much. I need interaction with those I’m photographing. I want to spend TIME with people getting in and out, closer and closer, talking, shooting, talking, shooting attempting to break though mental and physical barriers. It’s time consuming, laborious, challenging but I NEED it. I don’t get that street shooting. It’s a bit random for me, detached and I fall pray to things like window reflections and SHOOTING PICTURES OF MY FEET.
Melbourne has been great, attendance at our events has been high and our little voyage has only just begun. After my work requirements today I will be back out on the street, learning my little beast and searching for those little things that drive us.
I had time to shoot two rolls in Chicago.
I’m not a street photographer, but my coworker Kent and I ventured out with several of Chicago’s finest photo-friends and we made do with what we had. The weather, thank God, held out JUST long enough for us to wander the streets in search of the elusive snap or two. I am a total wuss, and temps below 85 degrees send me into near panic, but what had to be done had to be done.
Just being able to wander with camera in hand is really enough to get me going. I don’t need to always make contact. I find myself, at times, so lost in thought while I’m supposed to be making pictures that I sometimes feel these moments for me are more like therapy than photography. Chicago has history, and you have to pay your respects, in some way, before the city begins to reveal itself to you. There is no “add water, get photograph,” even when it rains. These have all been done, and will be done again. My fingerprints are on them, but the CSI would have a hard time finding mine amongst the thousands of others.
I try to be methodical about these type picture making moments. I come home and the film gets dropped right away. The images are scanned, uploaded, downloaded by me and then edited and tweaked. I rename them, renumber them and then start to figure out what they are about or if they actually mean something I can’t initially see. Are they worth anything? Of course but what? I want to thank all of you who came out and walked the streets with us. We learn a lot from you and appreciate your time and energy. Not to rub it in but it’s 80 degrees here today in California. Oh, not a cloud in the sky. Again, thank you and keep snapping.