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A photographer sleeps with his camera

Jimmy Olsen : Chief, I didn’t have my camera with me.

Perry White : A photographer *eats* with his camera. A photographer *sleeps* with his camera.

Superman III

I always have a camera on me. A real proper camera with dials and switches. I always have my iPhone and while it can do many amazing things if I want to take, make, a photograph then I’ll get out my camera. Ever since I became a photographer I’ve carried a camera. Canon 10D, 30D, Nikon D700, Fuji X100s and now a Leica Q or sometimes the Leica M240. I feel like I’ve been on a journey to find a camera that is both modern but also connects me to an old Zorki I used to play with as a kid. There’s history, nostalgia and story there. More than that there’s simply the joy in using a real camera like a Leica. I often find my thumb trying to wind the film on because it feels just like a film camera. It feels like a camera should in my memories. I love using these cameras.

That might be as far as the excitement goes though. After a day walking the streets I come home and edit the images. I spend way to long sat at my computer trying to work out what is “right”. I should just shoot JPG and let the camera manufacturer dictate what is right but I’m aware that I can get more out of a RAW file than a JPG so I chip away at the image till it’s crying in pain, and then chip away till it’s dead. Eventually a good photograph makes it way out of the pain and presents itself to me. I’m happy.

But then what? I’ve walked 15 kilometers and spent hours if not days editing the images for what? I’m not a staff photographer at the local paper. I have no “Chief” to show them to for the weekend suppliment. It’s just me and my camera. Why did I just walk 15 kilometers and spend a day taking photographs? Maybe just for mental health reasons? Maybe to be out the house? Maybe to get away from working for clients and to refresh my brain? Maybe, but I’m still left with the photos that sit on my hard drive and if they’re lucky get to go on Instagram for a day trip.

It’s been a thought in my head for a while. “What the hell am I doing?” I’m going off and producing little photo essays and I have no where to put them. I don’t know if I’m really a big project photographer looking for gallery space and trying to say something with my work. So often at talks you’ll get asked “What’s your work about?” and other than saying “Well its an exploration of what I can do with a camera” I geniuenly don’t have a clue. So I keep exploring and producing little photo essays just because I like to.

Maybe when I retire, lol, Machine Learning will be so smart that I can just ask my phone to produce a book of my work based on a theme and send it off to a publisher. “Hey Siri. Show me cloud photographs.” “Alexa, sell this photo book.” Maybe all I’m doing is saving for the future? My camera is a little time machine after all.

By Pete

Photographer and part time Spider-man.