Okay so I know this isn’t ground breaking news and better photographers than I have taken a few snaps here and there using the Hipstamatic app on their iPhones – but I don’t care. Well, I do of course and I’m working on that! – These were from my dog walk this morning. But there is something very liberating about ‘snapping’ away without over thinking the photographic process. Would I do this all the time? Of course I wouldn’t – I actually enjoy the photographic process. This is why I shoot 90% of my work on old manual AI-S lenses. I enjoy setting the focus myself, or setting the exposure and the shutter speed and the white balance, the ISO etc etc and composing for what I want. I understand it better as a result. Or maybe I’m just a control freak!? I like the challenge it offers and how you are constantly testing yourself even on the most critical of jobs against a deadline. I like the challenge. I like the test. I have a lightmeter!



But if everything was totally automated how can you ever understand it and as a result how would you ever be a better photographer. You can’t. In time you can get very quick and accurate using full manual control. I am now. But I could always be quicker of course and that is part of the individual development of the photographer. Look back 20 or so years or so before the digital photographic age rose up and swamped us with what we need, what we think we need and what we really don’t need and this was how photography used to be done. Call it ‘old school‘, call it ‘back in the day‘, call it whatever, the fact is that photographers used to be all over this because there was no alternative.

Now I’m not a technophobe. Well maybe a little. In certain areas. I hate conversations about Photoshop or Aperture or the latest advantages of this lens or that camera…it bores me to tears to be honest. I’m aware of the latest developments and equipment if it affects me. I actively embrace multimedia and audio gathering by photographers and I believe that this is the way ahead if photographers are to continue to produce work that interests more people and has a wider market. I fully believe that on the right story that lends itself to multimedia great work can still be produced even under a deadline. The photographer can on many occasions successfully shoot video and gather audio at the same time as shooting stills – within certain boundaries and with some practicalities considered and with his or her end market in mind of course.

I still use top end, high spec Nikon Cameras in the D3 and the D3s but I have other considerations in my working photographic life and need what they provide and can achieve and I have no problem with that whatsoever or with using a 70-200 zoom or whatever and rattling away on auto-focus. No problem at all as it is a requirement of the job at the time. It is functionary. It is a tool of work. I even, for the briefest of times, shot on Aperture priority the other day for about half an hour. Then I felt guilty and reverted back to manual exposure! Small steps!

But just occasionally it is good to free yourself from ALL the technology including the manual focus. Including the AF and the auto-whatever. Free from any photographic considerations and choices and just point and shoot! Even if I did still have my D3s and a 50mm 1.4 AI-S hanging over my shoulder. Just in case. But like I said, small steps!

Just because, as a photographer, you can experience something else. It can’t hurt.

2 responses to “Feeling Hip”

  1. Giles Penfound Avatar

    What you say Ian has a particular resonance with me at the moment, for some bizarre reason I got myself into the situation of thinking I had to get new kit and in doing so would take better images. I guess the loss of my Leicas hit me harder than I realised but what it has done, again by small steps is made me remember why I’m a photographer, plain and simple to tell the story of the world I see and experience through images I make.

    I quite frequently go back to the master HCB and look at his images, if you were very critical you could say the technical quality of some was particularly suspect, but what matters and hits the soul is the meaning of the image. Its not about pixels and f stops but stories.

    Hopefully someone will remind me of what I have just said the next time I waffle about kit…

    Love the work chap many congrats


    1. admin Avatar

      Thanks for the comment Giles, always appreciated. As you say the meaning and the storytelling should be paramount in any documentary work but is often lost for various reasons. The details, as you know better than I, often tell that story better than one ‘killer’ picture as far as documentary work is concerned. You are right in saying that much of Cartier-Bresson’s work is not technically perfect. If it was judged purely on that alone then much of his work would be assigned to the darkroom floor as the negs were checked! But those same pictures have great depth and meaning to them and that makes the difference. Narrative. That’s what stands the great work from the good work.

      There was a programme on ITV1 last night Sun25 Mar) at 10:15pm called ‘Perspectives: David Suchet – People I Have Shot‘, the info on the programme is below, but he had a Leica M3 and went off to shoot pictures in the areas his grandfather had. Now I’m not saying that because of the Leica he got some nice stuff but it is definitely worth a watch as some of his grandfathers’ work was really, really nice!!

      Take a look if you get the chance.

      (David Suchet follows in the footsteps of his grandfather, the famous Fleet Street photographer Jimmy Jarche, in a quest to capture on camera how Britain has changed in the past century. Talented amateur photographer David is sent on assignments across Britain to experience what it is like to be a press photographer. He shoots similar subjects to those his grandfather found, a task that involves tracking down unknown Welsh mining villages and taking pictures of the miners and their families. He experiences what it is like to be a war photographer when he photographs a training exercise with the British Army and feels the pressure as he takes pictures of David Cameron and the Queen.)



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: