Walking through Leeds the other day I passed two well known, strongly branded camera shops. As I walked by I was struck by a real sense of revulsion.
I thought a little about the source of this feeling and quickly realised that a key component was not just distaste for the insanity of the continuous upgrade digital model, nor the sure and certain knowledge that the sales staff would largely be unknowing youths who will prejudge every customer and seek to make a sale regardless of need or affordability. That’s just their job and their employers know exactly what they are doing when they employ, ‘train’ and send out these sales warriors.
No, the real distaste comes about because underlying all of this is a subliminal promise that spending money on something new can make you a better photographer*. What arrant nonsense. Canon is now advertising the 550D as being better by virtue of having 18 megapixels – fine, but the catchline – ‘the power of a great story is in the detail’ – is manifestly false, in this arena at least. I have a 15 by 10 inch print on the wall of our daughter paying the pano. I was shot on 35mm HP5+ film and is fairly grainy. Certainly it doesn’t look like an 18Mp image to me, but it is powerful and very beautiful because of its story.
I’m convinced these places are bad for photography because in buying into the digital model and being taken over by the greed/desperation that ensues, they’re selling the promise short. You don’t need to keep up to make great photographs, but you do need to put something of yourself into it.
*This is a principle that applies in many areas of life it would seem:)
**I’m not against the aquisition of new tools, or even new gadgets to amuse us, but there is something I find increasingly sickening about the fundamental dishonesty used to drive the blind rush to keep on aquiring when what we already have is perfectly adequate.