Tag Archives: stupid

In defense of free choice

The Internet is awash with people who invest a great deal of their emotional capital into defending their technology choices and tearing down anything which isn’t what they use.

As a photographer who chooses to shoot mainly film, I see that a lot online (not at all in real life, strangely enough; if anything I get curious interest about my use of film). People for whom digital is the best thing ever will latch onto articles or comments which suggest that film might not be dead and may have useful applications, advantages even, and will proceed to shred them with arguments over why they would never use film ever, even if you put a gun to their head, and how obviously we’re all stupid idiots for wanting to, and why don’t we just give in and use the same thing they are. Film diehards will fire right back, pointing out digital’s perceived technical and aesthetic deficiencies, or how all digital photographers are sloppy “spray and pray” merchants with no technique or style and how you can pry their film out from their cold, dead hands.

You know what it reminds me of? High school. The computer “format wars” of the 1980’s. “My Commodore 64 is better than your stupid Spectrum!”[1] “My Spectrum is better than your dumb Commie!” “Your computer sounds like a robot farting!” “Well your computer can only display shades of brown!”… ignoring the fact that both systems did an excellent job by the standards of the time, had their own strengths and weaknesses, and had more software titles than any 12-year old could possibly hope to own, legally or otherwise.

Some things never change. Only now, you can be an annoying know-it-all anonymously, without risk of ending up in detention for shouting in the library or getting into a fist fight in the corridor over which version of “Elite” was better, and it’s adults, not pre-teens, engaging in these stupid pissing contests.

You know what? It’s all stupid. One size does not fit all. Your choice, which you defend passionately as if anyone using anything else had personally insulted you, might not be the best choice for everyone!

I stand here in defense of choice, of my right to choose whatever product or medium I want to use regardless of what you think, and your right to do likewise unto me. I’m happy with my choices right now. I’d rather be out with my chosen camera, making photographs, than sitting here writing an editorial wondering why so many people feel like they have to force their choices on everyone else or risk being somehow a lesser person. Why does it matter so much to you if you’re so happy with what you chose, if it works for you? If your choice is so superior, why the need to defend it so vehemently? Surely if it was so much better it would stand up for itself without your help? Insecure much?

You can, if you’re fortunate, change the world with a camera. But you won’t ever change the world by sitting on your arse arguing over which camera is better or which lens is sharper. Get over yourself. Get out. Make photographs! Have fun! And for God’s sake stop trying to screw it up for those of us who just want to enjoy the tools we chose to use instead of the ones you think we should.


[1] Apologies to those of an American persuasion (and those who got into computers much later) who may never have heard of a “Spectrum”, or maybe even a Commodore 64, or experienced the joy of loading software from audio cassette.

The week in links, April 23rd 2010

Via Reuters: “Nokia exec: phones to make system cameras obsolete“. I checked, it wasn’t posted on April 1st. Call me crazy, but I really can’t see this happening. On the other hand, if I ran a company which depended on sales of compact point and shoot digital cameras, I’d be looking at cellphones and the lower end of the mirrorless interchangeable lens segment with much fear and loathing right about now as their outflanking maneuver unfolded around me.

The Discerning Photographer has an article up explaining why it’s important to do at least some of your own printing. I’m in agreement here: sure, it’s convenient to be able to present work online, but a printed photo just has something about it which viewing on a screen lacks.

The Best Camera is…

…the one which isn’t at home when you see the perfect photo present itself along the side of the road.

I was reminded of that again last night. Me in car, heading home. Camera and tripod at home. Too bad. No photo this time, good buddy.

Would Ansel Adams have been caught unprepared like this? Of course not, he would have screeched to a halt with all 4 wheels locked, scrambled to set up the 8×10 view camera, chosen the exposure by putting the moon on zone VII and performing some math in his head, and made the shot with seconds to spare. With a large format view camera!

Next time, that camera will be right there with me.