Catch the fish. Catch the image.


I recently read a quote from iconic film instructor David Lynch who talked about how creative work is like catching a fish. Ideas come floating like fish and our job as creators is to catch and facilitate the idea. Like a chef getting a fish and cooking it. It’s the fish that’s the main character, and not the cook. In Photography it’s the picture that is the important part. Not the camera.

We catch what we see with our camera but the very idea is what happens in front of us. We just have to observe, catch it and understand the very idea of the picture.

I will dig into the imperfect images and why an expensive camera isn’t necessarily the best for the job. Depending on the job. Photography is an expression and it isn’t important if the picture is technically perfect. It’s all about the expression. Not megapixels, not ISO or notice reduction.
Many of the best photos I have seen are not technically “perfect”. They may even be a bit unsharp, framed a little off or very grainy. The most important part of the experience simply was the story.

Photography is like catching a fish. Catch the fish. Catch the image.

“Kiss by the Town Hall” taken by Robert Doisneau isn’t really sharp. It is in focus but a bit blurry due to either the lens quality or low light and slow shutter speed.
But the image is still a masterpiece and very expressive.

Now, how important is the camera we use having the above lines in mind?

The cameras of today are mostly with very high pixels and ISO, so rarely one will lack that when photographing on the street even in low light. The quality of today’s lenses unless very cheap also all produce nice pictures. I postulate that with a just decent camera and lens it is possible to take interesting expressive images and you don’t need a high quality very expensive camera to do the job. It’s much more important that you have a camera where you can control the basic settings and catch the pictures you want.
The new Fujifilm X100IV is a great camera in many ways and will do an equally good job on the street as a Leica M10 will. Without a doubt, the many times more expensive Leica is built to last and the Fujifilm X100 may be more prone to be worn out earlier than the Leica. The Leica glass is famous for its quality and maybe the cheaper (but not cheap) Fujinon glass technically isn’t the same high standard. But does that matter a lot? At the end of the day, it’s the fish you catch that’s the big deal.

Mary Ellen Mark exhibition in Berlin.

How does your camera feel to you?

I love my old Leica and glass but it isn’t the deciding factor when capturing moments. The equipment is related to both your budget and how you feel about your gear. If you don’t feel engaged and confident with your camera it doesn’t work.

I work with two different cameras for the time being. Sony A7rIV and V for the professional work, because its company gear and policy. As a keen street amateur, I often go with my Leica M on the streets or I combine the Sony camera with Leica lenses. Honestly, I never use the Sony with Sony glasses for the street, simply because they are too big. The quality is top, but I don’t feel for it.
Earlier I also used the Fujifilm X100 but ended up preferring the Leica. Just a personal thing.

Having a good feeling about the camera can be the deciding factor if you go out and take pictures or not. It has to be fun and the right camera in your hands may be what inspires you to be active as a photographer. This is more important than pixels or ISOI performance, of course depending on what you shoot.

Self-portrait in mirrors.

My photo style and my camera are connected

The way I shoot is connected to the camera and especially the lens I use. It has an impact. I often photograph in a specific way that I am confident with. In periods I try to challenge this by changing the lens I use. I shift the catching tool I use to catch my fish with so to speak, to stay in the David Lynch analogy. I might catch different fish in that period and have the pleasure of seeing the world a bit differently this way.

Using old vintage lenses that produce less perfect images can be an exploration of the medium showing new possibilities and creating new ideas.

Berlin 2024- Sony A7rII with Summilux 50mm f1.4

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