Unapologetically 'Old School' The continuing appeal of the Fuji X system and pontificating 'gurus'


My Fuji X outfit. One that I enjoy using and yes looking at too. Now according to a well-known blogger / 'guru' (See - http://soundimageplus.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/the-future-of-photography.html) this probably makes me some aged no-hoper stuck in some rut of retro and outdated photographic values. And on that point I do get pretty fed up with these 'old pros' who have finally discovered that a m4/3 camera can take a decent photo AND you can actually use them on professional jobs instead of just going out to shoot something with one to get some hits on your blog. Where were these guys when I was out shooting the stock photography that I live off, weddings and other professional gigs with Panasonic G1's, GF1's and Olympus Pens years ago? Though it's not about displaying my 'hip' credentials I thought that worthy of a mention.

There is so much pontification and lecturing (or attempts at that) on the internet these days that is almost becoming an epidemic. Plus the fact these same 'old pros' seem to have finally decided to 'get down with the kids' is actually as embarrassing as it is laughable. This confusion that 'radical' 'new' and 'cutting edge' is to do with the picture taking device you use is plainly ridiculous. Probably read too much Marshall Mcluhan while at college!

The notion that there is this age split that also correlates with different attitudes to photographic practice and gear selection is also an insult to all age groups. Last time I went to a photo show there were just as many young guys walking around with flak jackets and huge DSLR kits as older photographers. Articles on the internet promoting the virtues of mobile phone photography aren't restricted to the under 30's either as far as I can see. And as I wrote yesterday the biggest growth I've personally seen in DSLR use is with young women. Plus, as I've written before, when I talked to the staff in my local Apple Store, who are all under 30, about photography, they all seemed to own DSLR's. 'Don't you use your iPhone?', I naively asked to be answered with the reply 'No we're serious about photography.'

There is also the point to be made that if we old(er) guys are locked in to some kind of nostalgia trip, how many of the smart phone users are fashion victims? Just how many buy their phones or their cool new mirrorless camera because it's the hot gadget to own, rather than making a considered appraisal of what is right for them? There is also the notion that the majority of people who take photographs are not interested in anything other than documenting their lives and that photographic technique and finding the best camera have probably never mattered to them anyway. Show a Nikon Df to the majority of 'happy snappers' and you'll get either a look of bewilderment or sympathy that you are having to use your Dads camera from the attic. There is also no increase in people who want simplicity and ease of use that I can see, it's always been there, since the days when Kodak made taking pictures simple and affordable.

Ultimately, it's a point of view. But it is just and only that. As I'm fond of writing opinions are like a********s, eveybody's got one! I would also point out that the picture at the top of the page deliberately includes my two electric guitars. A Stratocaster and a Telecaster. Pretty much as old school as you can get. Yet what do many of the 'hip young cutting edge' guitarists use these days? Guess.

One day we might actually get to a situation where some bloggers, commentators and would be photographic guru's don't feel the need to give us their 'insights' and 'predictions'. We could also do without the Road to Damascus moments. 'I've seen the future of photography and it's pink and very small !!!' In the words of the immortal Inspector Jack Regan 'Leave it out!!'

So back my Fuji's. Just to make it perfectly clear, I am not recommending these cameras to you, I am not saying (nor ever will) that these are the 'best' cameras or even that this is how cameras should look. I just like using the things. They feel right to me and yes if you have been introduced to photography via compact point and shoots and smartphones then they may feel and look strange. But then people will only know if they work for them if they try them. I've tried phones and micro sensor cameras and they don't work for me, but at least I gave them a go. And yes I like the look and the whole retro sensibility, but then I use other cameras as well. And as I write continually the cameras and lenses we choose to use are just the starting point and by no means the main purpose of what we are doing. 

And no the Fuji's are not that great at wi-fi and video, but there are plenty of cameras around if that's what you want. And again any assumption that says all those below a certain age want that and above it don't is both insulting and inaccurate. The Fuji X cameras offer an alternative and at this moment in time the company seems to be enjoying some modest success. And who knows whether that will continue. 

I do of course write all this in the sure knowledge that the photographic or camera owning internet is only marginally about taking photographs. It's mostly about the gear you use and how and where you use it. Most people are more interested in what f-stop you use than what the light was like and what creative choices you made to achieve your composition. I know that only too well from the stats. for this blog. I'd like to write more about how my pictures are created aesthetically rather than technically, but I doubt many people want to read that. Certainly I get very few page visits for that as opposed to the Leica S2 v iPhone type posts. And since I do have an audience it would be an arrogance if I ignored what people wanted to read. 

Personally. I'm pretty annoyed by anyone who thinks that they can define me and how I photograph by the gear that I use. And I think anyone else has every right to be annoyed as well. It's pretty galling to be thought of as some ageing old fart who uses Fuji X cameras because they are so stuck in the 'photographic past' that they are unwilling or unable to embrace the future.  Conversely it must be equally annoying to be thought of as a young photographer who is only interested in 'grabbing the moment' and getting it onto a social network site ASAP. With of course the implication that you have no interest in getting your technique to a standard that allows you to create what you want, when you want. So putting us all into catergories serves no purpose other than to demean us, our aspirations and our talents. Plus if you want to see 'cutting edge' experimental and creative photography have a look at Man Ray, Diane Arbus and Cindy Sherman, to name just three who pushed the limits of photography way beyond what any smartphone snapper comes up with these days. 

There will always be two sorts of people who take pictures. Those who regard it as something special, have an interest in the process and the results, who will spend time and money on it as an end in itself and there is everybody else. So who do camera manufacturers serve? Well some obviously try to serve everybody but it's always struck me that Fuji see their short term future with the first group. And I like that. I've never been one of those who says that the camera isn't important. It is and for me it's the equivalent of the instrument I use when I create music. But when I've got that right and found something that works for me, then I can get on with the important stuff, making pictures. And that's precisely why I like the Fuji's. I may have some issues with the raw processing and battery life, but when I'm actually out focusing and pressing the shutter they work just fine for me and are a pleasure to use. 

So finally, no predictions and no value judgements about my or your cameras. Or about what I or you want to do with them. I would however make one request. If anyone out there knows of any good sites or blogs written entirely by female photographers, then please let me know so I can add them to my recommendations. I disagree with Kirk Tuck over many things but over the male domination of the photographic internet, I am in complete accord. Like him all the photo shows I've attended are so male dominated as to be worrying and it can't be like that everywhere surely. Plus if the female members of the various Google+ groups I run would like to put forward their views on this whole debate then I'd be really glad to see that. It's not easy being a stereotype and I'd love to see an alternative (if that's what it is of course) by those who don't conform the camera owning cliche. 


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