Life cycle

2009, Photography

Life Cycle by Wouter Brandsma
Photography is now owned by the masses. The majority of people now have a camera and they are snapping away moments for their own purposes. In the past we kept family albums, but most photographs nowadays are in my opinion not printed anymore. Many photographs are uploaded to Picasa, Photobucket, Flickr, Pbase or Zenfolio (and some others) and they are shared with everyone. As a result, the photographs do lose their longlivety.
Life Cycle by Wouter Brandsma
For instance, can you name a single photograph from the last five years that really changed your mind about photography and influenced you? I can’t, but I do remember work from Elliot Erwin, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Ansel Adams, Steve McCurry, Robert Frank, Gary Winogrand, and Sam Abell, to mention a few. And their work is much older. In fact, many photographs that probably have influenced you, and certainly did influence me, are older than I am.
Life Cycle by Wouter Brandsma
So you see, I believe the life cycle of just about everything has become shorter except the life expectisy of us humans. Houses were build to last forever, cars were engineered to drive more than 10 years, cameras were build like a tank. And now, because of increasing consumer consumption/demand and increased market competition, prices have dropped, but so has the quality. The cheapest SLR cameras in the seventies were from metal, now it is all plastic. We get excited when a camera is replaced after less than 2 years without any major upgrade or improvement. Nikon’s top camera from 1988, the F4, was replaced after eight years in 1996. It is just done to drive profits and we are just too stupid to ignore them.
Life Cycle by Wouter Brandsma
I regurlary try to provoke you readers with the fact that a camera is just a tool. If the tool suits you, it will likely not hinder you in your photography. I seriously hope that most of you visit my blog for my photographic attempts, but I honestly notice that most people have actually read my posts about gear. The posts about the announcement of the Panasonic LX3 and my two parts impression of my current camera, the Ricoh GX200, have caused the most traffic on my blog (and they still do). Still I hope you realize that any photograph we take, in particular those we are proud of, are the once that last so much longer. No camera can beat that (well maybe a Leica, but that will cost you a lot of money).
Life Cycle by Wouter Brandsma
All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

23 thoughts on “Life cycle

  1. To be honest, to me, it is the philosphical tone of your posts that attracts me the most. Combined with pictures they are nice stories to read. Like a good conversation over a glass of wine!

    True, with holidays nearly gone, gigabytes of cards and computer harddisks are filled again with many pictures. So many that none of them stand out? A single print would impress the viewer more?

    But like good craftsmen, some of us choose their tools with great care and upgrade for the improvements for their demands, not for the latest ‘smile detection’.

    Personally, I am not that much aware of famous photograpers, but, I am influenced and remember some of the pictures that are on walls of friends/family. Now that I think of it, not by those that I saw on a computerscreen (or in -near- future projected form the camera directly).

    I like the last picture, there is a lot of story in there, or at least, I can think of one or two!

    1. Since photography involves a lot of technical skills it seems hard to realize that the essence of photography is still about feeling in my opinion. It is therefore probably that I am less active at forums nowadays, because people want to demonstrate their knowledge instead of their competence.

      And I hope that good craftsmen don’t need a ‘pet’ or ‘smile mode’. How comes we are so fulfilled with technology? I guess because people are not really interested in good photographs.

      A glass of whine to dicuss these musings seems like a good idea to me Ronald, but not at 7:00 AM 😀

  2. It’s true. I met you because of your review on Ricoh GX200, when I was trying to decide whether a Panasonic LX3 or a GX200 would be my new camera… Yes all that is true.
    It was also your look that helped me to keep on following you; the way you extract bites of what happens before you… It wa’s not about tecnique (wich of course you have), but about my eye fixed in some of those pictures of yours.
    This post and those I like most in your blog is about how important our look is, over technical affairs or the best camera you can afford…

    Couldn’t help leaving a reply.

    See you around!!

  3. I think Ronald said it best “….it is the philosphical tone of your posts that attracts me…” This and “Temporary Art” blew me away and continually causes me to rethink my relationship to my camera.

    1. If my recent writing got only one thinking, than it was all worth the effort for me. It doesn’t matter Joe the Plumber wjat camera you used, (most) pro’s don’t care either. It is only something of amateurs, because it is probably easier to achieve a certain skill with a particular camera than taking more photographs.

      1. I hope not my questions you have forced so “sharply” to express in choice “question” camera, and in particular Leica? 😉
        Regards from Moscow.

        1. Don’t worry Alexey. There is nothing wrong at looking for other cameras (I do so too), but I personally do hope people do so for good reasons. Reasons like I want to take better pictures is not a good reason in my opinion to get yourself a new camera.

          Like you, I think cameras cost a lot of money, so you need to be sure about it. Therefore you also might want to take a look at just announced Canon S90 which seems a nice camera too.


  4. Wouter,

    Agreed to your comment that the essence of photography is about feeling, but I’d like to add “and how the photographers express the feelings”.

    Is it summer in your country? I like the cloud ones and fact is, I have taken lots of cloud photos here cos the summer sky is fascinating.

    Also like the last one. It seems to me that the pretty woman is trying every possible posture to make herself being noticed but in vain.


    1. You are right Nevin, that the notion of how to express the feelings are important too in photography. But still more than anything else many (amateur) photographers connect that part with technology in my opinion.

      Just like Hong Kong the Netherlands is on the Northern Hemisphere, but just a higher latitude. As a result we have much longer days of light in the summer with longer sunrises and sunsets than Hong Kong. Skies and clouds are absolutely fascinating to photograph, but I do personally prefer spring and autumn.

      And believe me, the woman didn’t do anything to be noticed. She was smoking a joint at one of the many coffee shops in Amsterdam. She seemed far off 😀

  5. The masses seem to have no clue what to do with their snaps.

    Maybe you watched the news item on Dutch TV about this issue last night. People take 6GB of holiday snaps [as you don’t need to buy films anymore], but then they have no clue what to do with it. The reporter interviewed people on the street and nobody knew how to organize or share their uploaded snaps.

    It’s kind of sad that the family albums with prints – sort of personal “history books” – are becoming something of the past.

    Great shots by the way, especially the girl at the railway station and the last one.

    1. I totally missed that report Robert. Tried to watch the Stan Storimans documentary, but I was too tired anyway. I often think what people are all doing with their photographs they take with their cell phones, but it is now obvious. They do absolutely nothing with it, because they have no clue. I agree, that is sad.

      Thanks for your comments about the photographs.

  6. Wow, I’m so glad to hear that it won’t hurt your feelings if I say that I really skim over your gear-related posts just to see your photos.
    Keep up the great work.

  7. My first comment on your blog, but i´am a frekvent reader.

    And my first comment is one that dosen´t agree with you 🙂

    i can show you tons of photograps that has inspired me this year, and they are taken this year too, or last year 🙂

    Check this guy out. In swedish, but the photos is awesome.

    And many more if you follow some of my links.

    Best wishes/ Jörgen

    P.S. And i agree with you that the camera is just a tool to help you make those pictures you have on your mind D.S.

    1. Thank you Jörgen. Even tough I love to see readers coming back to my blog, I prefer comments even more. That way we can have interesting discussions and share our views and opinions.

      Therefore I certainly appreciate your point of view. With regard to the mentioned photographer, it is great that you feel inspired by him. But honestly, and I know it is just words, I wasn’t mentioning being inspired, but being influenced. But heck, those are just words and wonderful inspiring photographs are so much more enjoyable.

      I personally like this photograph 😀

      Thank you for sharing Jörgen!


      1. Mixed the words up 🙂

        I get both inspired and influenced by Terje, and many more.

        But your post got me thinking and i guess you´re right about the longevity of photographs. When so many are produced every hour, good and bad. You easily forget about a good photo when the next appear.

        And this photo changed my way of thinking. It showed me that you don´t always have to do those sharp and crisp photos of things and animals.

        1. Photography has nothing to do with sharpness and crispness in my opinion. I am absolutely surprised why so many people think that.

          The photograph you link to is an amazing photograph. You are very much right about that. A very thoughtful photograph indeed. Thank you for mentioning Jörgen.

  8. I agree. I’m bored with all the technical “advancement” and gimmicks of digital cameras. Some of them take good things out from our mind and soul. Many common people have been relying on their cameras to record the decisive moments. Or they don’t care about the moments and just snap away. Tons of pictures are resulted without heart and soul. Some of the pictures may be good but they may just be accidental shots.

    I like printed photos much more than the ones shown on the monitor or tv screen. Digital pictures do look better on the screen though. With b/w film, unless we develop and print them by ourselves, it doesn’t mean much to have them printed by photo labs as all of them digitalize the process. However, I still want real prints. Not only the photos are printed but also in large size that I don’t have the drag around, zoom in/out and resize with my computer. I just take them out and look at them with smile.

  9. I agree with you that the life cycle of things is much shorter than it used to be. Cameras don’t need to last more than 1 or 2 years, same with everything else we buy.
    In some ways this is a good thing as we keep evolving things but it also means that we keep getting things we don’t want or need just so that we can buy a new product.

    As for photographs that inspire and influence you, this is personal and I have to say that I have been more inspired by your photography and other bloggers photos than I’ve been by any picture of HCB and the rest. Their pictures were great and influential and are an important part of out history but I believe if HCB could use a digital camera his pictures would probably be better and different (for good or worse).

    The fact that everybody has a camera and shares their pictures online means that you have a very high ammount of mediocre but also of great pictures which you see. This has the effect that your perception changes and you look back at older pictures because they are different but not necessary better.

    To me digital photography and the fact that everyone has at least a camera in their phone to take pictures whenever they want has done more for photography than all the previous photographers together. Sure you have some boring, mediocre or plain bad pictures there but the quality is much higher than it used to be.

    1. I personally really think we don’t need a camera every 1 or 2 years. If it works and suits your purpose stick with it, explore and really digg it.

      The differences between HCB and other photographers from that time was that they didn’t have the same platform to share photographs as we do. So when you made it into Life Magazine for instance you were something special. The fact that they did inspire and influence me was that their work was groundbreaking and different.

      I don’t know if the overal quality is now much better than before. Again the difference being that people now share their work much more easily. There was no flickr for instance than.

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