2010, 2012


Maybe I am strongly opinionated in photography, and maybe I have completely different expectations in photography too. I am an amateur in the true sense of “lover of”. I think I suck at photography most of the times and just sometimes everything I learned and tried before comes together. But maybe I am not learning as quickly anymore, or don’t feel the desire to learn about photography like I did before.

I learned photography through reading about photography, learning and exploring techniques and searched the crap out of me for good tools, preferably the best. As such it made me partly the photographer who I am now. But my interests changed, and so did my perceptions and priorities. These changed in my daily life, my relation, work, and friendships, but I also think these changes strongly influenced my photography. As a result I really don’t care about gear anymore. Sure I like to keep my current gear working and like to use it to it’s maximum potential.

But I like to be realistic too. Why dream about a Leica M9 and doing all these efforts to keep up with reviews and sharing my thoughts about these on forums and my blog, when I know I just simply can’t afford it. What? I can’t even afford a new lens for my GF1 and when my GRDIII falls a part I won’t be able to buy another one. Yet, I am fine with that. When I picked up this gear it was fine for me, and it still is. I strongly believe it makes sense to focus on things that are likely achievable.

Remember I do photography for the love, not to get the best image quality. I try to share something from my inside, not to make it look perfect on the outside. Sure a Gibson Les Paul or a Stradivarius will give the musician the best, richest or finest sound, but may as well sound as crap when played without passion. I don’t think there is right or wrong in photography, it comes down to the intentions.

I don’t mind that others are interested in gear and technique. Please keep on doing that, because we all like to do things we love. Sharing these thoughts seems pretty much a 1:1 experience. We all get that and understand that. Sharing about our insides, motivations, and why we do the things we do. Well, that is a completely different thing. To get that message across is harder and to understand it too. These kind of conversations lack the immediacy and convenience that gear and technique have. If I can share these thoughts with just some and some are willing to share that with me, to me that makes all the differences.

I really don’t mind that many others are more interested in different photography related stuff. You see, I am aware that most of you who come to my blog search on gear or technique. And it is my fault too. I wrote some impressions of cameras I used and shared those on my blog. I shared some post processing techniques too. You know, I still explore post processing techniques, but more in an effort to simplify it. I still explore camera techniques, but in an effort to closer got to my imagined intentions. I often wrote before that I like it when I made final decisions before pressing the shutter. What I however did learn and experience that I got at times extremely distracted by it. I am still exploring what I really want to with my photography and I know that I torture myself a lot with my doubt and insecurity.

I like it to slow down and think. Don´t just press the shutter, don´t just check every website and sharing platforms, don´t immediately ingest photographs, edit, and process these. I like to listen to music, read books, and help to get my mind focused. There is more in life. I also like to think more deliberate about projects I have in mind and finally be able to execute it. But I also like to pick up my camera again and take at least one photograph each day. I will however be sharing less too as a consequence.

Photograph by Wouter Brandsma

26 thoughts on “Shout

  1. Walter,
    I found your web page searching for tech info on the GRD some time ago. However, what brings me back again and again are your images and your thoughts about image making.
    You should know, and I hope find pleasure in the fact that, I always spend time just looking at the photo or photos on your post first, before reading your comments. I find your pictures compelling and emotion filled.
    I then take some time reading your post and almost without exception find that your comments add another dimension-not only to your pictures, but to my picture taking as well.
    For both your pictures and your thoughts I am grateful.
    John Driggers
    Adelaide, Australia

    1. Thank you for your comment, John. I read articles by renowned critics in photography and they like to see photography websites that engage the viewer/reader with more insights in the thinking of the photographers. Especially so, since much of current content is focused on stuff repeated all over the web, magazines, and books. I know these subjects are highly subjective, but not necessarily on another level. I think the difference can be made by just writing about it. And since I care for the subjects mentioned above I try to do so. Maybe just not in such a regular fashion anymore.

      Many thanks and good light.

    1. I hope slowing down helps me to focus on what I think really matters, but also to free up my mind.

      Regarding the photograph above I really wanted to emphasize the loneliness with the low vantage point, the grey sky, and the centered subject.

  2. I’ve never owned a camera I fully “understood.” There was allways something to learn. Camera’s grow with me at the same rate my skills do. So I will never fully understand my camera. Unless I methodically try out everything. There is no fun in such an exercise. But I should have no excuse NOT to take photographs. Especially the “need” for a new camera is a bad excuse.

    Ik heb nog nooit een camera gehad die ik volledig in de vingers had, volledig begreep. “Iets” te leren was er altijd. De camera’s zijn met mij meegegroeid maar de “oude bakkies” heb ik nog steeds. Nu ik al twee weken geen camera heb vastgehad gaat het knagen. M’n iPhone, toch niet zo’n beste camera, doet dienst als surrogaat. Het excuus van een betere camera mag ik toch niet te vaak gebruiken om NIET te fotograferen.

    1. Goh Michael, wat vind ik het leuk dat je je hiermee inmengt. Met je art teacher achtergrond zul je waarschijnlijk als geen ander weten dat je niet veel nodig hebt om je te kunnen uiten. En natuurlijk zullen betere spullen alles beter doen aanvoelen, maar ergens denk ik dat dit hoofdzakelijk een gevoel zal bestrijken. Substantieel betere resultaten zullen toch eigenlijk wel uitblijven. Het meer fotograferen met een nieuwe camera en het daaraan ondervonden effect dat de foto´s weer beter zijn, is volgens mij toch hoofdzakelijk verbonden aan het tijdelijk meer fotograferen. En iets veel vaker doen is toch wel de voornaamste manier om ergens beter in te worden.

      Ik hoop dat alles goed met je gaat.

  3. So often I am overwhelmed with all the gear and tech talk, where to start, where to stop? But the photos that stop me in my tracks have nothing to do with tech specs and everything to do with pulling me into the frame. Your photo above shouts out the bliss of companionable solitude.

    1. It is so recognizable. At some point you hit a wall. I photograpg digital for instance for convenience, but also because film is just too expensive for me. I still do love the pace of film though. Therefore I still photograph like I use film. Not too much exposures, I shoot intentionally B&W (no raw) and like that fixed thinking. I try to ignore the distraction.

      I like it when others like you try to ignore all the BS too. Good to know that others prioritize too what I believe really matters, photography. Thank you Patti.

  4. Good read, Wouter, and I can relate to a lot you are saying.

    Some people are into photography, because they love gadgets. Photography is more or less an “excuse” to play with gear, preferably the newest stuff. Other free photographers consider the picture taking part as an “inevitable” prelude to what they really like: post processing.
    Even in the world of mobile photography – which I actually love because of its unpretentious nature -, you see that happening. When you use an Android phone – like me – instead of an iPhone, the hardcore “iPhoneographers” don’t like photos your anyway. Just because. And the purists loathe the use of an online editor, rather than in-phone apps.

    I couldn’t care less anymore (or mayne I never did). Today I was at an “Innocence of Muslims” protest in The Hague, just shooting with my phonecam and a plastic Holga. There were two other photographers, with expensive dSLRs and big lenses, keeping a “safe” distance from the crowd. Neuroticly checking their displays after every single shot.
    Mingling with the protesters, I was just taking unprompted snapshots. Talking with people, learning about their feelings, and sensitivities.

    At moments like these, I realize why I am into photography. For me, it’s just a way to enjoy life more intensely. The gear, and even the final results are not that important.

    1. Personally I think the majority are more interested in gear and technique. And in part that is already something worth of interest. A lot smaller group of photographers are more interested in the photographs. Take a group of photographers and sat them together. Most likely the talk will go about gear or how the fixed a technical challenge. Reasoning why they photograph and what they intent to do, is something that can only be described by a view.

      I like that you say that the camera is just a good excuse to show your true interest in the people.

  5. One or two good meaningful photo a day is plenty, I agree. Spending too much time would just bore me out. I like how you present your thoughts this time with two column and a single photo, like a magazine :P. The photo and your thoughts interact with each other. Less photo or a good set of connecting photos are always welcome on your blog 🙂

    1. The two columns is a try out to know whether it will be better readable. I like to connect, Alan. Both with my photographs and with my writing. It may not be the best, but I hope it connects with others.

      1. in a sense, like a personal diary with image illustration to express the mood and feeling that you have at that point in time. I still remember your freshly pressed post with photos of your bike journey. I thought that was also a cool set of photos with an alternate arrangement although we just couldn’t view the photos one by one. But certainly a great presentation, a change in pace, just like this post. Peace!

  6. Ten eerste strakke plaat Wouter! Toen ik de foto voor het eerst zag, deed me dat denken aan Depeche Mode. Waarom, ik kan het even niet plaatsen. Misschien een beeld uit een vroegere videoclip van deze band. Mooi statement heb je gemaakt mbt gear vs creativiteit. De camera blijft uiteindelijk een hulpmiddel om je creatieve geest in beelden om te zetten. Ik ben blij dat ik ook sinds enige tijd weer in die juiste flow zit. Het beeld spreekt, niet de camera!

    1. Toen ik de foto maakte had ik ook Depeche Mode in mijn hoofd zitten. Op de cover van ‘Music for the Masses’ staan ook geluidsprekers afgebeeld. Voor sommige lijkt de koppeling tussen creative ideeën en fotografie een kip of het ei verhaal, maar voor mij is de camera (net als bij jou) puur een hulpmiddel. Niet de camera is leidend, maar de ideeën en visie zijn alles bepalend. En voor mij spreekt eigenlijk de maker met het beeld. Mooi dat jij je flow weer te pakken hebt.

  7. I actually find these reasonings about doing photography very helpful. It’s a challenge for me to take pictures at times, much of the time, actually. Where am I when I take a picture? Somewhere in the head? Glamorous and pedestrian? Tech nerd or tourist? Provocateur or meek witness? But, please, none of that! Just enjoying the doing self with a camera seems simple enough and when it is magic can happen.

    1. I you are honest about your intentions and trust in yourself and give others that trust as well, you basically capture your own feelings, your mind set. When others notice that the magic can happen.

  8. Wouter, I resisted posting on this thread. You my friend are a communicator. Maybe you do this for yourself, this communicating. I suppose we all do it for ourselves. ….and then something happens that we maybe discount, maybe not. We start to see that what we write about and the images we make seem to reach out to others.We get responses that make us realize that we are not alone and that maybe, just maybe we hold the beacon that shows others the way home. It’s your turn.

    Wouter, the service you do for others goes without saying but needs to be said. Above one reads that other people have opened up to themselves thru your words and images.

    That’s the magic…….

    1. Thank you Don. You see, especially last year this blog got a lot of followers and if some start to prevail photographs instead of cameras it really excites me. Sure, there is a place for gear and technique. And there will be some on this blog too, but in my opinion what really connects are the photographs.

  9. Your good intentions in mind, yet it’s still another article about gear. Albeit a very good one. But to me it sounds like you’re still not done with gear. Something about it still bothers you, that’s why you keep posting articles like this one. Than again, maybe that’s part of the process. I like where you’re going. And I like the image you choosed for this article especially.

    1. I really scratched my head for a good reply Markus. You know I use two cameras that work for me, and yes when it really comes to it I want something for my photography I simply can’t afford. And my problem is that I have photographed with it a few times and I know what I can do with it. So I think it is more a process of letting go.

      So in that process of new orientation and different expectations it is where I want to take you all with me. I just don’t think I am the only one going through such thinking.

      Thank you for your very evoking comment.

      1. The camera you simply can’t afford – is that the Leica M9? Maybe you just need to wait until spring, when the M10 hits the market, and M9 prices are going down. In the meantime keep on writing, and attach a Paypal Donation Button for a used M9 next to your quality content we know and love you for. And if that does not help, let me lend you my M9 until Spring (I’m serious – I’m currently more into analog MF) – changes are great that you will know by than if your dream camera is really advancing your photography, or not, as you suggest in your articles. Just send me an email if you want to take up my offer.

  10. Wouter, I very much agree with your words here. Equipment is not a thing for me any more either. I’m happy with what I’ve got, I greatly admire what it can do and, like you, I just hope its goes on doing it! But …… it is a tool that I use, nothing more.

    And I agree about image quality too – what is important is what comes from inside of us, what we want the picture to convey, not necessarily that the image is of perfect photographic quality.

    And in your final paragraph, your words – “I like it to slow down and think” and “There is more in life.” >>> absolutely, definitely!!!

    Great post, my friend! Adrian

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