Week collection 05 and some more

2016, Photography, Project, Uncategorized

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Another week collection, number 5, and some personal musings. Maybe these draft all over the place, but I felt the need to scribble down some random thoughts.

All I write on my blog is my personal view. I am curious what others write and say, but try to ignore what professional photographers say. Not that I don’t read it, but find myself not connecting to it. They have different intents for their photography. They have customers to satisfy, pay bills or worry about other paying his or her bills. They run tough businesses and see the photography landscape change rapidly in their disadvantage. And I tell you, this has happened before and will happen in the future too.

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My grandfather lost his business with the arrival of consumer color film and larger plants developing these for consumer. There was less need to process and print black and white film. Consumer cameras became cheaper and people started to take more pictures. Sounds familiair related to the current situation? And that was late Seventies, early Eighties. Go figure.

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I recently read an article written by a professional photographer mentioning, surprised, that many other people call themselves photographers as well. In his opinion most were merely camera operators, maybe taking a good photograph ones in a while lacking intent though. Pretty pretentious in my opinion, but he is a “professional” photographer so he must probably know that a lot better than me (and many others). Well, I’ve got this to say: “Don’t question the intent or motivations from others, but only question your own intent or motivation.” That should matter in my opinion.

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The same is with people who doubt whether their own work will be noticed in the huge amount of images shared on the web. Complaining about the many, in their opinion, meaningless photographs. Again, don’t question there quality of work, but work hard for yourself. Again, question your own intent and motivation. Set bars for yourself, not for others. Make first and foremost work you can be proud of. So many things can be rewarding. If only you look for them on your own.

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I haven’t spoken about gear in a very long time. Sure, it matters to some extent, but your choices shouldn’t necessarily matter to my photography. Like my choices won’t make you a better photographer. Again, find your own intent and motivation. The funny thing though, coming back to my choices, is that I always have two dedicated cameras with me on a daily basis. My Ricoh GR and a Panasonic GF1. I, however, always use my iPhone 6 now. And I don’t even know why. Last year I even made a small film with the iPhone which I might eventually post here on my blog someday. That film feels finished for 95%, but it needs some minor tweaks though in post production. I’m just amazed how much you can do with a smart phone. Years ago I talked about the small sensor aesthetics which I really liked. My iPhone now is faster and almost more intuitive in use than my previous compact cameras I used. It is a stunning camera and I’m strongly considering leaving my other cameras at home.

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I’m working on a new personal film project. I made this promise with some photography friends. Within this group we try to set personal goals and challenge one another. We greatly respect and admire each other, and each other’s work. For us, what really matters is, again, the intent and personal motivation. We all try to achieve making work we can connect to in one way or another.

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I made a short film last year to figure out whether my filming would be different from my photography. I was curious if a couple of seconds clip would be different from a 1/125 second moment. While it created new considerations and possibilities, I personally thought the differences were not that big. Also in my first film I focused mainly on mundane things, like I do in my photography. I feel no need to make it all more exciting.

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So what is my intent? Why do I take photographs? Is it to preserve moments for myself? No, not likely. Many times I didn’t take photographs at moments that felt precious and memorable to me. I still can relive these moments vividly, knowing that I could never capture those moments in a frame. So many moments persist so much longer than that blink of an eye. You see, what matters to me is the mundane. My life is mundane, and while many find that lacking adventure and excitement, I’m fine with that. Raising my children, sharing life with my wife, and going to work makes my life worthwhile. So, through this worthwhileness I find my intent.

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I could do travel photography and amplify maybe two percent of my life spent, or I could focus on what I do for the rest of my life (except from sleeping). It is up to you, like I made up my own mind. I guess, besides intent and motivation, it also boils down to honesty. Nothing is more or less important, it all is important.

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Just some quicks thoughts on Apple introducing a new MacBook Pro and ditching the SD card slot. While Apple gives no strong reasoning for doing so, it also clearly shows how clueless the camera industry are in my opinion. When I use my iPhone for taking photographs I quickly transfer my photographs with Airdrop. It is fast and very reliable. With my cameras I have no similar feature or I have to buy Wi-Fi SD cards instead. More recent cameras have Wi-Fi and provide apps to transfer photographs. Apparently this still is not an optimum solution and camera manufacturers clearly lack the skills or willingness to do any better. Manufacturers need to sort these things out very quickly to give photographers similar benefits too. While photography remains incredible popular, camera sales are in serious decline.

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So I said, I only use my iPhone now for my photography. I have numerous cameras that are kept unemployed in my bag. And I feel no need to pick them up. The iPhone is fine for me. I don’t have to care about the technology and technique. Not to deal with setting the right date and time. We switched to wintertime late October and I always forget to change that in-camera. I do most of my editing and processing on my phone and transfer my photographs once in a while. Instead, I’m always observing and on the look out for something interesting, something that ticks my mind, I connect with. For me, I find that the purest form of photography. I #believeinphotography, not in film, cameras, or anything else that ruins the process for me.

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I mostly try to stay away from politics on my blog, but I find current times particularly worrying. We’ve seen political turmoil in the Middle East bursting in horrific violence, misery, and death. World powers and regional structures fighting their proxy wars, with previously chosen leaders turning into dictators. And the still leading world power embarrasses and jeopardises the world stability. Yes, the world changes. And sometimes these changes come so fast that it is logical that people become fearful in one way or another. Yet, for what we choose we have great responsibilities. Each and every vote counts and your call might have great influences on the world we live in. Don’t be feared about the unknowns that may lay ahead, but dream about the world you want to live in.

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All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

27 thoughts on “Week collection 05 and some more

  1. Interesting thoughts, Wouter. I always enjoy your images and thoughts (when you offer them) and confess that I did not notice in the images your present concentration on the iPhone. That may, in part, have to do with the similarity of field of view of the GR and Apple lenses. Anyhow, I’d certainly agree with the notion that equipment is largely irrelevant once you pass the point of sufficiency for your own intent, etc.

    As for politics, let me just say that there are plenty of reasons to think that in this “still leading world power” things post election will, regardless of outcome, be both better than one’s worst fears and worse than one’s fondest hopes. We are, nevertheless, all voting this year with our fingers firmly crossed.

    My best to you and yours.

    1. Fingers firmly crossed, so true Greg. What ever we do should be with honest intent.

      My iPhone outperforms my seven years old Ricoh GRD3 with ease. And I currently find no use for my GR. I don’t want to fiddle with SD cards and I like to process my photographs on the iPhone or iPad.

  2. As always, thank you, Wouter, for taking the time to share your thoughts about living life (and photography too!). Your blog entry today resonated with me completely. I love the idea that photography for us ‘non-professionals’ is a very personal thing that requires only that our images please/excite ourselves. Like you, I have a group of friends that meet regularly to share and discuss our images. The group is valuable to me because those discussions often open little photographic doorways through which come new ideas to pursue.

    I’m sorry I don’t have a blog to share with you. I don’t feel I have enough words in my head for such a thing. But here’s the link to my flickr page:


    Best wishes for good days ahead.

    1. The personal experience and the freedom to express yourself and experiment is an amazing privilege Jamie. In a group it can be exciting and encouraging to talk about photography and life. It can help connecting the dots and better understand what you’re trying to do.

      I really like your experimental work Jamie. Very liberating. It is work that matters.

      1. Ha! That was an accident on my part but I was thinking about posting a comment. I started using my blackberry first and then my iPhone to take a photo almost every day. I’ve been doing it for years now but not every day now – and mostly only shared with myself and a few close friends. Writing. Photos. These can be so incredibly personal and intimate – how can one complain about others’ efforts at expression? Please keep sharing. It’s beautiful and inspiring to my own private work.

        1. Thank you for your comment. I try to photograph too every day, but also know how difficult yet rewarding it can be. Respect for your effort. I wished I could do more writing like you do.

  3. Thanks for sharing – so many thoughts. What struck me most is the bit about taking honest photos. Like what you’ve said, regardless of the tools that one may use, it is the intent and the memory behind each image that matters. I mostly use an iPhone to take and edit my photos these days. It suits my purpose. Though the few occasions when I use my Fuji x100 or Canonet, it always feels nice to hold these cameras in my hands and it’s great fun to see the images that they produce (particularly with the latter).

    1. I will maybe rediscover moments where I want to use my other cameras too. Although right now they play no role in my intent. With photography there is thankfully so much more to care and think about.

  4. I must say, you were one of my main mentors back then when I was still snapping around with my GRD. Really glad I received a few advises from you, and perhaps just that little push made me continue to photograph and unfold stories ahead of me.

    One thing I should also point out, I’m not a big fan of the wide angle perspective from all the recent smartphones. I wish there’s a lens module I could swap it out (not those clip-on ones) and replace with something closer to 35mm.

    Smartphones have it all, camera – check, process and development – check, connectivity – check. Seriously, not everyone uses LR on desktop, but almost everyone has Instagram, vsco installed on their phones. Oh, and there’s the previously popular Hipstamatic.

    1. Each photographs matter Alan. Even if only for a fee people, it still matters. At least when you’re honest about the intent. I know you are and it is good that you continued photography.

      It is true that most phones have a wide angle lens. For me, it feels naturally since I’ve been using that since 1996. Dual lens systems could be an option to change focal lengths. I’m afraid modular systems won’t last that long.

  5. Again a nice set of 13 images, Wouter. Even when I only occasionally commute by train, you capture that feeling in a great way. It’s funny that in stead of buying a new compact camera (my LX100 spends more days in the repair shop than in my bags), I bought a new iPhone. I don’t regularly update my phones, but I couldn’t refuse the offer of the 7plus, with it’s wide and normal lens. I couldn’t care less about its phone features… Such a large device did take some getting used to, but so far I’ve not been disappointed with the results.

    1. Oh, wow. The 7plus. That is certainly a large phone and I thought the my iPhone 6 is already large.

      I’ve been thinking about compact cameras. With larger sensors we thought camera manufacturers could cope with the desire of high quality sensors and output. These cameras however lack that small sensor esthetic. Maybe the 1 inch sensored cameras are the nicer in-betweens.

  6. Because of your post and personal interest I’m shooting a lot more with my iPhone. It feels liberating, and feels like a waste of my more expensive camera’s whom I keep at home.

    Keep up the good work, I find it awesome that you make the best out of your time in public transport!

    I think those expensive camera’s are losing ground. They are really really nice but the outcome is so clean. Too clean if you ask me. I spent a lot of time thinking about going back to film camera’s, the only drawback is the filmscanning to me, it’s so time consuming.

    Well alright, that’s enough for my thoughts 🙂

    Keep up your good work, I love your pictures and words!

    1. I kind of feel the same Jeroen. Thank you by the way. More so, I’m glad I didn’t buy other cameras that at some moment I wanted to use. The expenses and the process of scanning is what holds me back using film again. I don’t miss it, after so many years I feel fine about using my iPhone instead. Reminds me using my GR1 in 1996 and the GRD3 in 2009. It is a simple tool and I like that.

  7. Beautiful images Wouter and thoroughly enjoy your photo talk. Too easy sometimes to forget that it’s the final image that counts, the gear being a mere transition point between the eye and vision. Love what you see!

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