Zenfolio | Leigh MILLER | That One Thing | Buying A Camera

That One Thing | Buying A Camera

August 09, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Fujifilm X70 Compact Camera 


I'm on the tail-end of my Summer travels....

No matter where I've been the number one question I get asked is "I need a new camera, what should I buy?"

It's one of those things I've gotten used to over the years...very hard to hide when you have multiple cameras slung over your shoulder and walking around. As of late I've takem to just using my compact camera because it attracts very little attention and the images are comparable to what I use professionally. In fact, I checked my photo catalog and found a whopping 7,658 images just this year alone with that camera. On occasion I might use my iPhone but that's few and far between. My professional cameras...fewer than 5,000 images for the same period.

Just recently I worked a friend's wedding and was constantly being grabbed by the arms by guests asking what cameras I was using and what they should get. It was a pretty laid back situation so everyone was relaxed and casual...one guy asked me that question three times before his wife/girlfriend told him to sit quietly..and wear his sunhat. As I said...laid back and most everyone had a few to drink. As I was wrapping up the ceremony end of things I heard this voice... "Hey Tiger, what kind of camera should I get"..belonging to a good friend I've not seen in a pretty long time...mocking me of course. Matter of fact we dated way back when and had a pretty hot relationship until she dumped me...the reason she dumped me is what relates to photography and what camera you should get!

Rewind about 14 years... I was a stockbroker and she was a Doctor in training with all kinds of weird shifts which meant that we basically saw each other once every few weeks and for only a day or two. Add to that, she was in New York and I was working in Toronto. I would drive down there as often as time allowed and between the beginning and end of the relationship I remember two things about her:

Thing 1: She used to say "I love you" in Swahili. I've been lucky enough to hear those words  a few times in my life and I appreciated every single time. In my personal opinion though, you haven't lived until someone who loves you says it in Swahili..but I digress.

Thing 2: Her alarm clock

She would wake every morning at precisely 5:30AM, turn the alarm clock off and seemingly go back to sleep. I was always worried she might over-sleep and be late for work or whatever else she had going on...but she never was. At 6:00AM she would jump out of bed, open the drapes and her day would start. No hitting the snooze button (3 times), cuddling or moaning about having to go to work. Just up and at em'.

That went on for about 3 months until I finally asked and this is "That One Thing" that she does every single morning.

She pictures something that she wants the most in her life and then thinks about what she needs to do to make it happen. She gave me three examples and number one on each list was; eliminating anything/anyone from her life that held her back or didn't contribute to what she wanted to achieve. Hence, she eliminated me. Apparently I was never going to give her what she wanted...country house surrounded by a picket fence to hold in as many children as she could afford before age 40. She was right...no country house or kids for me.

That's sort of how I look at cameras..if it doesn't serve a purpose or contribute to what I'm doing, I eliminate it (I do that with people now as well!). That wasn't always the way though..once upon a time I suffered from GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). I had cameras and lenses sitting around without being used for so long that they gathered dust. I suspect most people who take pictures casually suffer from that too. Nearly everyone who asks me "that" question says the same...they have a "good" camera but always forget it at home or can't be bothered to take it anywhere because it's too big. So, they default to using their SmartPhone for the majority of images they make.

So to the question...I'm going to stop telling others what camera to buy.

Instead I'll urge you to take a good amount of time to consider "That One Thing".  Think about what you want the most from your images and realistically apply that to whatever device get's you there. Anything else is going to hold you back and/or get left at home. If you only populate social media with your images..stick to that SmartPhone or Compact Camera. If you really need the creative control, flexibility and application for something other than social media then by all means...move on up. Understand of course that what I use for my professional work is overkill for social media.

P.S. "She" became a surgeon, married an airline pilot, bought a gorgeous country house in the Catskills and together they made 5 "rusty butt" boys as she calls them. Also, she bought a DSLR with a few lenses and takes it everywhere...regardless of the size, weight and hassles.


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