About Cameras and Soul…
Cameras and Soul… what’s wrong with him now? Sou might ask… so I’ll explain directly.
The other day, I saw an interesting YouTube contribution by Sean Tucker, whom I hold in high esteem. It was mainly about how and why to buy (new) cameras and other equipment, such as lenses. Well, actually, it was also mainly about why you shouldn’t do it all the time. At some point he touched on whether cameras have a soul and whether they inspire you or not.
Sean explained in detail there that he can’t really understand this point and doesn’t feel that way. From his point of view, the camera is just a tool, and he would only draw his inspiration from the images or the idea behind them. This is quite an interesting statement for me, and I had to think about it for a while.
Nevertheless, I would like to disagree with him here – so of course not the fact that he sees it that way for himself. That’s more than OK and I can somehow understand that. But I would like to disagree with him that (for some photographers, like myself) it is not so important what they shoot with.
Before I continue, I would like to make clear that Sean Tucker always explains his opinions on subjects in a very respectful, unbiased and witty way. I also have great respect for the fact that he always puts the creative and emotional in the foreground and not the technical. For those who don’t know him that well, I can only recommend watching some of the videos on his channel. Or just read his very inspiring book “The Meaning in the Making”.
Cameras and Soul
Of course, cameras don’t have a soul, but I’m sure you know how that is meant. Nevertheless, we hear this phrase quite often, as well as the statement that one or the other camera “invites” or otherwise “inspires” people to take photographs. In my experience, this is said remarkably often by users of two brands in particular: Leica and Fujifilm.
Where does this come from and what is behind it? Are they just brand fetishists and fanboys (yes, boys… women seem to be far less susceptible to this, but maybe that’s also a prejudice)? Or is this done to excuse – especially in the case of the Leicas – the exorbitant price? Or to create a unique selling point or to throw a special, emotional approach to photography into the room?
Well, maybe it’s a little bit of everything. But at least I see it quite differently. And I hope that I am not blinded by my imagination as to why it might be so.
Every human being is different!
Yes, cameras and lenses are of course first and foremost tools. But like other tools, they can be particularly ergonomic or particularly practical – and they can also be particularly aesthetic or beautiful. Is that important? Yes! At least for me.
I much prefer to use my great Japanese chef’s knife because it not only cuts super but also feels very nice in the hand. A good and clean-running bicycle is a blessing, as is a perfect saw, a good pan and a pen that fits well in the hand. The touchpad of my MacBook works much better than on any other laptop computer I know.
But that is only the technical-ergonomic part.
Aesthetics also matters!
My bike is fiery red, and I really like its design. I simply love it! And I’m actually someone who also cares about the design of cameras. I love beautiful cameras, and not only because of the purely optical aesthetics.
However, it is something more than pure beauty. It’s more a touch of nostalgia, a little reminiscence of earlier times. Perhaps much younger people don’t (yet) feel this so much because for them, of course, there is no design they can know from much earlier.
But even that doesn’t quite hit the mark, because in my opinion there is also a design that is (almost) timeless. And that is what has soul for me. A tool that was created by people for people. A tool that is pleasing to the eyes, the hands and the soul.
And indeed there are cameras that combine this. Unfortunately, however, there are no longer many of them today. Perhaps the Leica M-series, the Leica Q(2) and also the Fujifilm X-Pro3 and the X100V. If you don’t feel and see that, you don’t feel and see it. However, I feel it and therefore love these cameras with soul!
Will this make me a better photographer? No, not directly at least. But I prefer to pick up these cameras and go out with them. And that in turn has already made me a better photographer.
There is always light somewhere – go out and shoot!