These two photographs of hay stables in Valais, Switzerland, are 45 years in the making. I took the first image in 1972 during a school camp with my first camera, the fabulous Kodak Instamatic. This started my lifelong fascination for photography. When I received the prints from this film, I was annoyed at the glitch in this one image. However, four decades on, I feel that this imperfection makes the photograph perfect for me. It showed me that with a camera, it was possible to capture a sense of time and space that could last a lifetime.
This year I returned to the region for the first time since I made this photo and I was excited to recapture this moment. Of course that is not possible, just like standing in the same river twice. However, I managed to make a photo of a past moment, which is now destined to become a new memory.
Both photos were taken in the Fiesch region, Valais, Switzerland, 1972 & 2017
One of the most important piece’s of equipment I need as a photographer is a good pair of hiking boots! While the right camera gear ensures I can create the image I want, the boots are essential for reaching my shooting destination comfortably. We have had a lot of rain lately and today’s walk to a nearby wetland rewarded me this image.
I am about to embark on a month long photo hike to Jeju Island, the largest island in South Korea. Jeju is famous for three abundances, or samda: wind, stone and women. These three abundances will be my guiding themes for my photographic project. I will be hiking on the Jeju Olle, over 200km of connecting paths that will take travellers along the south coast of Jeju Island. This network of hiking tracks Is inspired by the famous Camino de Santiago in Spain.
Here is my camera bag that I will be taking on the journey:
Olympus OMD EM1 with Panasonic 20mm f/1.7
(my main camera with only one lens, means I never have to worry about having to change focal length)
(My trusty, sharp, macro, zoom, landscape and always ready camera)
Fujifilm Instax mini 8 plus film
(The perfect ice breaker camera)
(It’s a phone, a computer and a camera … perfect)
Spare battery for the Olympus
extra SD cards
Camera cleaning gear
Note book and pen
Swiss Army knife (I never travel without one!)
My camera bag is an old messenger bag that I bought about 10 years ago in Korea, I have many other bags but I keep coming back to this one. It is kinda my Dr. Suess bag, old bag, new bag! It is now fitted with a camera box to protect the equipment.
Looking at the list it doesn’t look that light, considering I’ll be carrying a full back pack as well. But this is about as minimal that I am prepared to go for this project. I am not taking a laptop, only relying on the iPhone for quick editing if needed. (this works really well with the Olympus’s wifi capability) The phone also makes for a handy third camera. The Instax camera was a last minute decision and is a wonderful tool to break the language barrier. I love giving away photos to people that let me take pictures of them.
I have ben reading a lot about digital versus analog or film photography lately. A lot of the arguments centre around the economical advantage of digital photography; it costs less to make many images, versus the (perceived) more considered approach of film photography. I use a mixture of both, but I mainly make my photos with a digital camera. Having said that, I really like the manual approach of analog photography, but then I am a bit of a romantic when it comes to old cameras. I love holding them and admire the design of some of the classic cameras. However, for my daily work flow, I don’t want to spend time in a dark room and play with chemicals. I would rather spend time sitting in my thinking chair, holding an old camera and ponder my concept for my next shoot, which I will then execute most likely with one of my digital cameras.
There are a number of photographers, especially younger ones, who are returning to film cameras for the sake of the “art” of photography.
Some of the arguments are; ‘it lets me better focus on my photos’ … ‘analog cameras slow me down and allow me to concentrate more on the composition’ … etc. I agree that slowing down and taking fewer photos is a better way to work, rather than making a few hundred photos in a session. It all seems to be part of the retro trend that is happening in the developed world. Think Instagram, Hipstamatic and any number of retro analog apps for your digital smartphone. Lets go back to the future.
But I don’t think it has anything to do with your camera. There is a kind of digital greed that can happen with your digital equipment. I see people pointing the camera at anything that remotely interests them and clicking away. “I can always edit or delete that photo later”, is the motto. Just because you can does not mean you have too! I know, I have fallen for that trap many times.
Recently I have discovered a digital compromise method that is guaranteed to not only slow me down, but also satisfies my lust for analog technology and digital convenience. I have started work in full manual mode and I have equipped my digital camera with old analog lenses. This way I have to slow down and I will spend more time creating my composition.
Ultimately any camera can be used to make images, but what really matters is not how you make them but why you make them.