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.
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.
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.
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).
All photographs by Wouter Brandsma