I've read a lot of articles over the last few years about why fewer people buy cameras. This one, which I read today, seems the most concise: "Real reasons why the camera market is shrinking" by Robin Wong. His takes affirm my own inferences: the market for cameras stagnated with their affordability and ubiquity, and they lost their purpose to the everyday user. Wong writes,
Look at the legends Cartier-Bresson, Richard Avedon, Martin Parr and Ansel Adams, they redefined what photography was during their age. They reshaped the history of photography. They challenged the norm, they dared to push boundaries, they went the distance and provoked what was deemed right. They were visionaries and they successfully made photography truly meaningful. In stark contrast, today all we do are merely imitating what has been done before over and over again, a million times. What's new today? Look at the Instagram feed - sunrise, sunsets, long exposure photography, portraits of beautiful lady, more model shots, these are good photography yes, but they have been done to death and there is nothing new anymore. I don't see anything truly thought provoking and revolutionary from the work of today's photographers.
Fair enough. Photography can;t go much further than it already has. Photographers can make any image we want with older equipment. The market for new equipment no longer needs to exist.
I'm not a professional photographer. I like my cameras and I like shooting film, but I'm not being paid for it; I'm a hobbyist and I don't know if I'd want to pursue the craft beyond the level of hobby. However, last week a trade publication approached me to do a local shoot. Although I didn't "get" the shoot, it lead me down the rabbit-hole to upgrade my DSLR for times when I'm approached for gigs like that. In my search for an upgrade, it became abundantly clear almost immediately that I didn't need to get a super-duper, brand-new camera; there were plenty of people selling decade-old cameras with more features than I would ever need, and more megapixels than I'd ever need. The newest cameras seemed redundant and unnecessarily expensive.
For my casual hobby-work, I enjoy using older cameras. That's part of the joy of it for me. Lately, I've found joy in buying a cheap used camera, shooting a roll or two with it, and then selling the camera again. If I've been asked to do something slightly more professional, I have a couple cameras that I can use on a more trustworkty basis, but I've never had to use a really-fast shutter speed, so what I already own has always been enough. If I need crisp medium format photos, I have the Mamiya C3 and the Kowa Six; if I need crisp 35mm photos, I have the Konica T3 and T4 and a slew of lenses for them; if I need something more lo-fi, I have the classic Lomography cameras, or the Konica S2, and a bunch of other little cameras; I have a bunch of Cokin filters for added fun and effects. And for my purposes, that's ok.
But I do find it a little sad, even though it doesn't affect me, that the camera market has diminished as much as it has. As a fan of photography, I want people taking photos. And yet, admittedly, there isn't much "new" that photographers can do with the medium. Myself included.
A couple days ago, my girlfriend posted a professional portrait that she had done for her. It was a really excellent photo. In the photo, I could see the lighting setup in the reflection on her cornea: two softboxes, much like a school photo. And I was a little envious of this. But then again, if I didn't have all these pros to compare with, I'd probably be very happy with what I'm doing. I have enough as it is and I'm still improving.
And I guess that's a good place to be, no matter what's happening to the "industry."
I spent some time on Saturday trying to record some guitar parts. It was mentally painful and difficult and I haven't dared to listen to them yet. But I broke that ice and that's important, an accomplishment in and of itself.
My goal for this recording is simple: I want to make a product that reflects the style I play at my regular-ish gigs. Usually I've recorded my songs as big, full-band arrangements, but I want to make simple recordings that people can buy and think, "This sounds like what I what I just heard."
This is the first time I've tried to record at all for a long time. Demos that I started in 2012 stalled in 2014 or so as my life took some turns. The songs started to feel ridiculous: they were loud, overwrought, and just didn't sound right. They sounded like I was trying too hard, which was precisely what I was doing. I haven't listened to those demos for a long time; I can't really hear them anymore.
So I'm starting over with a minimalist approach. Instead of starting with the drum machine like I have in the past, I'm going to start with guitars, hoping to get some natural percussion put in at a later date, once the guitar, bass, and vocal bedrock is done. I feel like starting from a more natural approach—strings rather than drum machines—will make my recordings appear more balanced, so they don't come-off as compressed rock arrangements.
But it's hard. My motivation is next to nil. I feel like I have a bit of a time-crunch, but I don't feel like I have anything invested. When recording, I'm finding it hard to know which mistakes are worth messing with and when they're worth working with in post. I'm just not feeling it at all. I seem to think all my songs are terrible; I don't seem to be able to see an audience for them. I keep having critical comments from myself and others running through my head and I can't seem to shake the sense of futility in it all. I feel like they're already latently unfinished.
This is common Jeffrey-stuff, though: I never feel like my "work" is up to snuff. It always seems hackneyed and artificial. And I've never got my creations done to the degree that I want to. My songs feel weird; my photos seem uninspired. But I just need to keep pressing on.
This is why it's important to have a producer or an agent, someone to light a fire under your butt and tell you that you need to get things done. It always appears that there are all these people self-motivated people who seem to be driven enough to put their stuff out there without someone pushing them, but there's a good chance that a bunch of those people have agents and producers. They just have to get it out there, with help from professionals.
But I feel like I don't have the ego needed for that sort of self-motivation, at least anymore. Years and years of middle-class clock-plugging seems to have zapped a lot of my creative oomph.
So I keep slogging. And hopefully some good-sounding music will come out of it.
I appreciate today's editorial from The Globe and Mail about our rather lacklustre election results.
The federal election result on Monday has many stories to tell, but there are two that will shape the Trudeau minority government’s early days in power.
It's going to be quite the tightrope, yes, and Trudeau admitted as much today (although I can't quite find a link of the conference I heard about).
I think Trudeau's tendency to try to "play both sides" has made him somebody nobody is happy with. But I also believe he was initially elected for promises he never intended to keep, since he did not expect to win the election five years ago. I don't find him incompetent for his promises made when he expected to lose. But the whole talking-out-both-sides-of-your-mouth habit discourages me.
I tend to like minority governments. The necessity to compromise and team-up tends to work well for policy. However, I haven't seen much in Trudeau that makes me think he's a capable compromiser, nor have we seen anything like that from the main national balance-of-power party, the NDP.
I have no predictions.
Sometimes The School of Life is tediously paternalistic and ideologically narrow-minded. This video, however, for us constantly-down-on-ourselves sorts of people, is really good.
The script is based on this essay from their website:
Naturally, the reality of our inner lives can feel unusually desperate to us. But that’s only because we don’t know the lives of others in sufficient detail. If we did, we’d find all the same longing, compromise, misery and awkwardness. We aren’t uniquely awful; we just know ourselves unusually well.
That's good stuff.
Not an easy vote, but I'm happy enough with my choice.
YouTube: ephemeral ideas
Amazon | DailyMotion
DeviantArt | Duolingo | Flickr | FVRL | Kik
LinkedIn | MeetUp | MySpace
Playstation | Reddit | Snapchat
Spotify | The Internet Archive
Tinder | Vimeo | VK | WattPad