On Status and Street Photography

1x1.trans On Status and Street Photography

Stockholm, 2012

Photos in this article are outtakes/shots I am considering from my on-going “Suits” project.

One of the things I love most about street photography is how open and democratic it is. Anybody with any camera can shoot street photography. You don’t need anything fancy. Not only that, but street photography is accessible to everybody. You don’t need to be in Paris– you can simply shoot in your backyard.

However one problem that plagues street photography and life in general is this need for status.

In this article I will touch upon two aspects of status when it comes to street photography: 1) Status via cameras/equipment, and 2) Status via social media:

Why do we crave for status?

To be human, we naturally seek to gain or elevate our status. We do this in many different ways:

First, we can try to gain dominance in a social circle by becoming the “alpha male” (or alpha female). Secondly, what we often do is seek material things which raise our status. This can be buying a BMW, having a Louie Vuitton handbag, buying a bigger house, or as a street photographer– owning a Leica.

When I started street photography around 6 years ago, I remember googling “street photography” and coming upon Henri Cartier-Bresson. I heard that he used a Leica most of his entire life– and was blown away by his images. The sucker in me was lead to believe it was because he shot with a Leica– that he was able to create such amazing images.

Therefore started my black hole into lusting after a Leica. I remember reading countless amounts of reviews on Leica’s– and how amazing they were. I started to imagine myself–looking cool, Leica slung over my shoulder, casually strolling the streets of Paris– snapping away like the master himself.

Unrealistic expectations with a Leica

Back to reality. I recall contemplating taking out a large student loan (while eating ramen for a really long time) to afford a Leica. I tried to rationalize it– that shooting a Leica would suddenly make me more “inspired” in my photography.

I also felt quite timid when shooting in the streets at the time, and I felt that the Leica would magically solve all my insecurities and problems. I thought that if I had a Leica, I would become more confident, more “invisible”, and less “disruptive” when shooting in the streets.

The amount of time spent on Leica review sites, dreaming about Leicas, and trying to figure out how to afford a Leica spent a lot of time and mental energy. I regret all of that time I spent– I should have spent that time actually going out and shooting with the great equipment I had, looking at great photography, and perhaps considering saving up money for more valuable things (like traveling or buying photo books).

Not only that, but I liked the idea of me to “look like a serious street photographer” (by owning a Leica). I think owning a Leica is equivalent to driving a (really nice) Lexus versus driving a Toyota. Technically a Camry will do the same thing as a high-end Lexus (get you from point A to point B), but the difference is mostly cosmetic. Similarly, a DSLR will do the same as a Leica (take photos)– but not look as cool or sexy.

I think there is a lot of mystique behind Leica’s– and at times I feel kind of guilty owning one. I remember how much I lusted after my Leica– and when I finally got it, I felt on the top of the world. Whenever I went to photography “meet ups”– I would feel the confidence of having a Leica, and everyone would always gush over it– wanting to test it out or even hold it.

Leica and status?

Frankly speaking, shooting with a Leica hasn’t really made a better street photographer in any regard. At the end of the day I do prefer shooting with a smaller and more compact camera over a DSLR but I haven’t technically made any “better photos” on a Leica.

Not only that, but I think my initial urge to purchase a Leica was to raise my status. I think I secretly wanted to be seen by others as a more “serious” street photographer– and there is nothing that calls you a “serious street photographer” than having the dedication of owning a Leica.

Sadly enough, I do notice that when I do meet other photographers and they see that I shoot with a Leica, they respect me more (and might erroneously think I am a better photographer) than when I simply owned my DSLR.

I also hate some of the snobbiness that surrounds Leica’s. While I do shoot with a Leica, I never refer to myself as a “Leica photographer.” I think it sounds as silly as calling yourself a “BMW driver” or a “Rolex time-reader.”

I have often heard that buying expensive cameras and lenses is like “men’s jewelry”. You own it to show it off to the rest of the world– which will help elevate your status.

This is one of the main reasons why people will instagram their new fancy watch or designer handbag– to brag to their friends and family, and elevate their status.

Status and GAS?

1x1.trans On Status and Street Photography

Stockholm, 2012

I have written extensively (and still now) about GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). It is a “disease” in which we want to keep buying more and more cameras merely for the sake of it– feeling that the equipment we have isn’t sufficient enough. GAS also leads us to believe that purchasing more cameras will suddenly help us become “better” photographers. People inflicted with GAS (myself included in the past)– will spend more time reading camera reviews and looking at camera rumor sites than actually going out and taking photos.

I have written ways in how to cure GAS– but haven’t talked too much about what I think are the roots or the causes of GAS. Below are some thoughts on what I think cause GAS (speaking from my personal past experiences):

1. Insecurity

I think a lot of us photographers (especially those of us starting off) are insecure about our photography– and we want to become better photographers.

I remember when I first started to get serious about photography, and I only owned a Canon point-and-shoot. I felt insecure that the camera wasn’t “good enough” to create professional-looking quality images.

Therefore I searched the internet and I found the fancy cameras that create “bokeh” and invested in a Canon Rebel XT (350D). I loved the camera to death, but after spending a lot of time online– I felt I was “missing out” on full-frame. Apparently all the “real” photographers shot on full-frame, and the image quality, bokeh, and high-ISO capabilities would help you become a better photographer.

So I think that caused me to become insecure about my crop-sensor DSLR, and to foolishly use some of my student loans to splurge on a Canon 5D. But that wasn’t enough. Now that I had a full-frame camera, I “needed” Canon L-lenses, or else I would be “disrespecting” the full-frame sensor (or something like that). I somehow felt that my images weren’t going to be as good as they could without having nice lenses, so of course I splurged on some L lenses (and lusted after even more).

Even after getting a Leica M9, I somehow wondered if getting a more expensive lens (35mm f/1.4 ASPH Summilux FLE) would help me get better images. My older 35mm f/1.4 at the time seemed lacking, and perhaps didn’t create the same “creamy bokeh” of the more expensive lens.

But through all this– I realized that my wanting of a newer camera or equipment was due to my lack of confidence in myself. I wasn’t confident in the images I was creating– and always had that “what if?” question looming in my head. What if I bought that new body– would it help me get better image quality? What if I bought that new lens– would it help me capture more interesting scenes? What if my gear is holding me back from creating even better images?

I found through going through a point-and-shoot, crop-sensor DSLR, full-frame DSLR, a Leica M9, then a film Leica that no one camera (or lens) made me a better photographer. Sure the image quality would differ as well as the ergonomics of the camera– but none of these cameras made me create more emotionally powerful images.

The only thing that would help me become a better photographer was to spend more time shooting, investing in photography books, thinking about photography, editing brutally, getting honest feedback and critique from my peers, and from (of course)– shooting more.

2. Advertising

Another big thing which I think causes GAS is advertising. Advertising often creates a sense of dissatisfaction with the material things we own– and tries to subversively get us to purchase new things we don’t really need.

We are often bombarded by advertisements for new cameras and lenses– either directly through banner ads on the internet (or even more commonly) through gear review sites and rumor sites. Whenever a blogger (myself included) receives a camera from a manufacturer to review– he or she is advertising the camera to the masses.

I don’t think there is a problem buying new cameras. I think we should purchase new digital cameras once every 2-3 years or so (about the shelf life of a computer or smartphone). But what I think is unhealthy is once you have a relatively new camera (or even a brand new camera)– worrying about if there might be something better out there.

In theory, imagine if you bought a new camera today. It would have all the best technology you ever wanted. An optical/EVF viewfinder, a light and compact body, high megapixel count, superb low-ISO performance, and an attractive design. If you then never looked at another advertisement for a new camera or gear review site, you would never become dissatisfied with your new camera.

You might find some quirks with the camera you own, but you would probably learn how to live with it. But if you are constantly looking at gear review or rumor sites– you would never become satisfied with the camera you own and learn to live with it. And you might be less inclined to shoot with the camera you already own.

3. Status

The last part of what I think causes us to feed into GAS is due to status.

I have been to some photography meet-ups in which 90% of the conversation is about cameras, with everybody’s camera proudly displayed on top of the table. Everyone shows one another the “newest purchase” they made– whether it be a new camera or lens. Everybody then fondles the camera and lens, and “tests it out.”

The person whose camera everyone is envious then increases his/her status. They either gain the admiration (or jealousy) of their friends, peers, or acquaintances– through this new camera purchase. The similar thing could be said about buying a new Porsche and getting your status elevated.

We may therefore consciously (or subconsciously) want new cameras or equipment for this boost of status and recognition that it will bring us. The same I have noticed is that when it comes to photographers who own a Leica. Having a Leica is a status symbol as well as a camera. But it doesn’t take any better photos than any other rangefinder– but it has the brand name and status attached to it.

I have met some photographers who shoot with Leica to be quite snobbish and aloof. Some of them look down on other photographers (especially photographers who shoot with Fujis which they call “wanna-be” Leicas).

Nobody likes being looked down at. When I had my Canon 5D– I didn’t feel it wasn’t a “serious-enough” street photography camera. And that I “needed” a Leica M9 for more people to take me more seriously.

I would have to say that once I purchased a Leica M9 I did have that short-felt feeling of elevation and being “on top of the world” having the camera that everyone else dreamed of owning. But that high of buying the camera only lived a short period of time– I soon became used to the camera, and it wasn’t anything special anymore. But I still did notice that when I was at photography galleries with my Leica strapped around my neck, people would stare at my camera– or even approach me, ask me about my camera, and start chatting with me.

Status in social media

1x1.trans On Status and Street Photography

Melbourne, 2012

I feel there is also a lot of status when it comes to the social media world. In the “real world”, status can generally only be shown through material things or dollar amounts. We measure status based on what job you have, how many cars you own (and which cars you own), what clothes you wear, how much your salary is, and how big your house is.

With photography it is also a numbers game. In social media, we keep vigilant look on the number of followers, likes, favorites, comments, and page views we get from others. I feel that social media is an even more destructive status symbol than in the real world– because the number of followers you have is open to the public to see. In the “real world”– we never (or very rarely) show our salary or how much we have saved up in the bank to the public to openly see.

For example, a photographer who has 10,000 followers will be seen as having a higher status than a photographer who only has 100 followers. A photographer will be seen as a better photographer if he/she has 100 favorites/likes on a photo, rather than the photographer who has only 10 favorites/likes on a photo.

However social media can be very deceptive when it comes to these numbers. I had a conversation with a friend of mine recently– and he told me how one of his friends would favorite the photos of 100 other people on purpose (to get lots of favorites on his photos). Even though that photographer wasn’t a great photographer– he would artificially inflate his number of favorites on his images (through kissing ass to all these other photographers).

The same happens on Twitter. Some people try to purposefully follow a ton of people, hoping that some people will “follow back.” Then once they have an un-even ratio of 5000 people they follow (but only 500 followers)– they will begin to “un-follow” people to have a more even ratio of follows to followers (for those of you unfamiliar with Twitter, your follows/followers ratio should be around 1:1).

So don’t get caught up in the numbers game when it comes to social media. You can be the best photographer in the world and not have that many followers, favorites, likes, or comments on your images. That doesn’t mean you’re not a great photographer. It simply means you don’t have a lot of followers on social media– or you don’t know how to effectively market yourself online.

For example, I am not the best street photographer online– but it is only because of my blog and strong social media presence that I get a lot of followers, favorites, and likes on my images. It isn’t necessarily that I am a great photographer. I know a lot of more talented street photographers than me who don’t get as many followers as me– because they don’t have a strong online presence.

Cutting free from status in street photography

1x1.trans On Status and Street Photography

London, 2011

As I mentioned earlier in this article– I think one of the most beautiful things in street photography is how open, egalitarian, and democratic it is. You don’t need a fancy camera to shoot street photography– and anybody can do it in his/her backyard.

But like everything in life– status gets in the way. Rather than going out and shooting and enjoying ourselves– we sometimes get caught up in what cameras we own, and how many followers we have on social media.

Don’t let status in street photography (and life) distract you. Who gives a damn if you have the most expensive camera in the world or a million followers. If you enjoy shooting in the streets and creating images that please you– who cares what other people think?

When it comes to ignoring status in street photography– here are some practical tips I offer:

1. Block gear review sites/camera rumor sites

I think that we have weak human will– and we need to place external restrictions on ourselves in order to control our impulses and urges. For example, I am easily distracted by email, blogs, and my phone. Therefore in order to be more productive in writing for this blog– I have a rule: I keep my phone switched to “airplane mode” (blocking all phone calls and data) until I have written for at least 3 hours in the morning. I also turn off the wifi on my laptop (like I have it now) when I am writing. If I need to use the internet to research, I use a Chrome plugin to block reddit and a bunch of other tech blogs I often frequent (Engadget, Techcrunch, etc)– and of course, Facebook.

I also have a practical tip when it comes to looking at camera review sites: block them entirely (with a browser plugin)– and only access review sites when there is a camera you are considering purchasing. I think if you have a Fuji x100 and you would like the faster autofocus of the x100s, it is fine to Google the differences and read a review. But if you already have the x100s and are simply bored at work, refrain from visiting a gear review site. That will simply create an urge for you to purchase new cameras. As for camera rumor sites– they are as bad (or even more addictive) than trashy gossip magazines. I would say block them entirely (if you find yourself frequenting them too often).

By cutting yourself off from these sites– you will better appreciate the camera you already own, hopefully shoot with it more in the streets– and not worry so much about how fancy or good your camera is (in comparison to) all of those other cameras out there.

2. Watch the company you keep

I think there are two types of photographers: photographers who use their cameras to go out and shoot, and camera collectors (sometimes there is overlap– but generally you can distinguish people in one camp and another). I would say watch the company that you keep.

If you find that the photography buddies you have only talk about new cameras and lenses try to hang out with other photographers who talk more about photography. If you spend enough time with other photographers who are obsessed with gear, you might become dissatisfied with the gear you already own, and

end up buying something you don’t need (simply to fit in with the group).

For example, I knew some guys who shot with DSLRS/Micro 4/3rds who hung out with guys who collected Leicas– and ended up buying one simply to fit in.

There is a saying that you are the average of the 5 closest people to you. Be careful about those 5 closest photographers you keep close to you– they will have an immense impact on you (whether you know it or not).

3. Disconnect from social media

One of the best ways to escape the status and numbers game in social media is to simply disconnect. If you find yourself checking the number of favorites/likes you get on your photos too often– take a hiatus from social media (whether it be one month, 6 months, or even a year). Perhaps set all of your photos on Flickr and social media to private– and simply focus on one photography project for a year.

When I took a 8 month break from uploading photos on the internet– it was the most refreshing purge and cleanse ever. It gave me more clarity to focus on my work– rather than worrying about what others thought about me and my photography.

This doesn’t mean you can’t get feedback or guidance on your photography. Simply rather than trying to get feedback online– try to do it in-person with other photographers. You will also find this feedback to much more helpful than any other feedback you might get online.

Conclusion

1x1.trans On Status and Street Photography

Amsterdam, 2012

I think at the end of the day street photography is something you should do as a passion– rather than a sport in which you are comparing numbers to one another. There are no winners and losers in the street photography arena– we are all brothers and sisters. We shouldn’t let status via the cameras we own or the number of followers we have distract us.

So ignore status when it comes to street photography (and life). Give a middle finger to comparisons and feeling inadequate. Go out there, embrace life, and shoot to your heart’s content.

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  • YS

    inspirational!

  • OY

    that’s why i don’t give a *** about all the likes and favorites i get on websites… 99% of them are photographers that are just networking, and it’s obvious when the most popular photos are crap
    great article eric

  • Vernon Szalacha

    Great article Eric. When I sold my camera a year ago, I waited until I got the camera I wanted. I knew this camera, whatever it may be would help me prevent GAS somewhat because I took your advice about the one camera/one lens idea. I own the X100S and while I do see cool cameras and other gear coming out all the time, the X100S is the one I plan on owning exclusively for my photography. It’s all I can ask for. At least for quite a while (year or so).
    Another point you could make for helping stop GAS, is that when you look at past great photographers, they may (from a technical perspective) have what would be considered “lesser” gear than what we can get today and yet that didn’t stop them from providing us with the images that we use for inspiration.

  • Brooksy

    Great article, i recently deleted my facebook, tumblr, flickr etc, put my dslr on ebay and once sold in next few days will use the money to purchase a lumix lx7. You could say i used my dslr to find myself in the photography world and find a style i like, found i like urrban, architecture and street(although not overly confident shooting people yet but will get there). And hated lugging a bulky camera with a bag of lenses etc and wanted that freedom of a smaller camera. My conclusion is im starting again from scratch, i know what i want to do, i dont need socail media(kept my twitter only), purchasing an lx7 over dlux 6 cause its cheaper and can use left over dslr sale money to buy books, and just want to take pictures and enjoy taking pictures. In a few months when i have a collection or a few good photos i will open up to socail media again once i found my feet and feel my pictures are good enough.

  • Jourdan Lynch

    Yeah, I stopped posting photographs online… I felt my lack of time I spent online killed my popularity… lowering my confidence from not getting many likes or comments (as I am not really the sort of person who is active daily on social media)… I just shoot photographs for myself nowadays… Enlarge them in the darkroom… sometimes I don’t even scan them to the computer lol

  • Gervs

    Speaking the truth, cheers Erick.

  • Teresa Huguet

    What a lovely reading, Eric. I have felt myself sharing so many experiences from my (obscure) past while reading it…fortunately belonging more to the past than to the present. You know one of the things I am doing this year is switching to film and waw what a magic thing and way of learning. I am doing most black and white by now cause it makes easy for me to experiment with light and shade and shadows…and joined a friend who has a darkroom and is showing me how to develop my film at home and save some bugs but most of all am learning how to get my contact sheets done and this wonderful and inspirational moment when you say…ok have the possibility to enlarge one or two…which ones? I do not know if I will ever be able to have my own darkroom at home as my friend has but in any case going to a lab, asking for your contact sheets and just select one or two pics to enlarge for your own pleasure of hanging tham at home or keep them in a box is such a lovely lesson! This for me has meant that I think a lot more when I am about to take a picture and only this small attitude has provided me with with a potential to improve as a photographer, I feel. And the most important: you and your blog have been paramount and will keep being in my evolution as a photographer. Thanks Eric for making our lives much more enjoyable and authentic!

    • Paul Holmes

      I used my bathroom as a darkroom – not ideal but it did the job ’til I got into trouble for staining the sink with various chemicals. Many was the night I’d shut myself in there at 7pm and not appear again ’til the early hours with just a handful of prints – happy days! :-)

      • Teresa

        Where you put The enlarger in a bathroom? This is what worries me…cause you need sort of a table…don’t you? Thanks, Paul!

        • Ilkka

          Depends a lot of your bathroom. If you have a bathtub, you could put a ‘tabletop’, big enough piece of heavy plywood or similar, on top of the bathtub. If you have a washing machine in the bathroom, you could put the enlarger on top of that, or the tabletop on top of it and the enlarger on that. If there is space, you could bring in a suitable sized solid table (Ikea has some). It needs to be solid enough and preferably right height, but that is not so essential. No need to be much bigger than the enlarger itself. You can always store papers etc somewhere else. It is good to have a somewhat separate dry area with the enlarger and papers and films and wet area with the trays of chemicals. Small space can be more efficient with less moving around but you need to be very organized.

        • Paul Holmes

          I had a tresle table that I used for the enlarger and developing dishes, which could be stored away when not in use. The power cable had to be plugged into a socket in a nearby bedroom.
          Hope that helps.

  • Kris Alaflountalafraise

    I like your sincerity. I guess this is the kind of reflexion that we have when we think about our photography. I agree with your thoughts and have made sames mistakes. Thanks for sharing this, nice to see your way of thinking, brother and sister in SP, I like this idea. Real gear is eyes and heart, and balls sometimes!

  • leica

    i still want a lecia

  • Malvolio

    Eric,

    I think it is too easy to fall into a trap of excessive self-loathing and guilt when it comes to using expensive equipment. I don’t have an issue with someone using a Leica, so long as it is used and loved as a tool and not and end in itself. I own and M9 and like you have had some reservations about my motivations for buying such a camera, but ultimately it has given me joy and pleasure and that is all one can ask from a camera. I think the “gear” factor was more important 10 or so years ago where there were greater differences between cameras in terms of specifications, but that is less of an issue these days (especially when once considers how good even the iphone 5s camera is).

  • Eddie Tay

    Google “street photography” and sooner or later you’ll come across Eric Kim. Thanks, Eric, for your posts. I’ve learnt so much from them. There’s something very democratic about social media and street photography and they make sense together. As for GAS, I try my best to avoid digital cameras because of the rapid built-in obsolescence. The camera I crave after is no longer so hot after a year, when the new version comes out. My most expensive camera is a Leica M6 with a humble but still wonderful Summicron Type II 50mm lens. But my everyday camera is Olympus XA2, simply because it is so stealthy. I’m building my own blog at hongkonglucida.wordpress.com (sorry for the plug) but really, it’s mostly driven by my wanting to be better at street photography more than anything else.

  • Karim

    You said it Eric!!! It’s tiring to see this “my cameras/photos/lens are better than yours, rangefinder vs dSLR vs mirrorless, digital vs film” fiasco. Unfortunately we are human and we succumb to these tendencies in what social psychologist termed as confirmation bias and belief perseverance.

    Thank you very much for highlighting this.

  • Ramana

    You missed the third aspect of status – shooting on the streets of NYC, Paris, and London as against shooting on the streets of your hometown. If you don’t have a portfolio of Eiffel Tower and Times Square pictures, you are a dud!

  • Cyndie

    I took my best photos ever with a Canon Sureshot on black and white film. It’s all about capturing the moment.

  • http://www.brunocstreet.tumblr.com/ Bruno Candeias

    Nice article Eric, although a bit too gear oriented.. I really don’t give a damn if someone has a Leica, I used to have one and I didn’t feel superior at any level.

    I recommend reading this article, about social media and status: https://medium.com/book-excerpts/daad37aa8c90

    Cheers!

  • Paul Holmes

    I have a natural resistance to being “gear orientated” by being impoverished. What really annoys me though are tutorials where we’re told by the tutor that the camera doesn’t matter, “but I just happen to use… ( a top of the range Nikon or Leica)”.

  • PixelToko

    Great article, so true and fun to read. Thanks.

  • Dannon

    Thanks for the friendly reminder! I do think it’s important to be an educated, practical consumer in today’s day and age because of all the great options we have in terms of cameras. There will always be something better than what you have. You can’t however buy skill, only a new experience. That experience should be thought out in relation to practicality and longevity. Find a camera that you can adapt to, get comfortable with and learn by continuous every day shooting. I believe it was Cartier-Bresson who said his camera became an extension of himself and he just so happened to shoot with a leica.. a LOT, I’d imagine haha. The obsession should be limited on the camera and more on your next photo. Buy what makes you happy, and go shoot and then shoot some more!

  • Dannon

    and yeah I still want a leica too… Maybe one day when I grow up…haha

  • Dave Rathke

    Hi Eric. I’m a bit disappointed in you, and I’m disappointed in the resounding theme of this article. You spend a great deal of effort (with a few minor qualifiers) slamming Leica cameras, and the users of Leica cameras. I, for one, have to say that I’m NOT ashamed to admit that I own a Leica camera (as well as a whole host of Leica lenses), and I use the heck out of them. The Leica camera system produces lovely photos, and I don’t ever regret buying it. With me, it’s NOT a status symbol, and I don’t treat it as a collector’s item. It’s a useful tool for shooting awesome photos. With all due respect, it appears as though you’re a bit jealous, which is evidenced by the fact that it’s such a troubling issue with you. If “the Leica experience” wasn’t such a source of jealous discomfort with you, you wouldn’t even raise the subject and write a huge article about it. This class mentality mindset that is so prevalent today (the “have’s” vs. the “have-not’s”) has got to go. Enjoy whatever camera you shoot photos with, and move on with life. And when your neighbor owns and shoots a Leica, more power to him. Celebrate it. Don’t criticize it, or labor to knock down the straw man that you feel so compelled to set up.

    • Ken Hansen

      You do realize that Eric is also a user of Leica cameras, no? I’m not selling you anymore Leicas. No soup for you.

      • Dave Rathke

        You should be ashamed of yourself for impersonating the real Ken Hansen. I confirmed this morning that you are an imposter. Coward. I’m through with this blog site. And I don’t have time to dialog with charlatans.

        • like_a

          So, according to your ledger, Eric is jealous and troubled, and the catfish is an imposter, a coward, and a charlatan. What horrible customer service you have gotten on this blog. You should ask for your money back.

          By the way, how do we know that you are the real Dave Rathke? *GASP*

          Anywho, nice educational post, Kim! :)

      • Ken Hansen

        This was NOT an answer from Leica dealer Ken Hansen. David Rathke is an outstanding photographer and a valued customer

    • Anon

      “With all due respect, it appears as though you’re a bit jealous, which
      is evidenced by the fact that it’s such a troubling issue with you.”

      You do know Eric shoot with a Leica right? How can one be jealous of others if he has the same thing. A case of my Leica is better that your Leica? C’mon man.

      I’m with Ken Hansen on this one.

  • Gutter Rainbow

    Well done, E. Your candor and humility speaks volumes.

    Remember Dave Chappelle’s skit about the Internet? “If the Internet was a real place, it would be disgusting and intolerable.” Subjectively, the same could be said more specifically of social media; one must choose carefully.

    There are a few groups that on the surface seem to be a good source of education for the aspiring street photographer, but once you patiently look around and listen a bit, you learn that they are full of egoism and snark, and their condescending efforts to denounce cliches (“don’t imitate Cartier-Bresson or Gilden!”) and punish mediocrity have done more to create NEW cliches (“imitate Webb and dirtyharry!”) and mediocrities than to educate or inspire. Gaining acceptance from such groups might seem to be something to aspire to, but the juice isn’t worth the squeeze. Drop those groups. Carve your own path.

    Anyway, your blog is a more educational and inspiring resource than most of the cliques who *claim* to be more skilled or in the know. Keep running circles around ‘em.

    Oh, and sell your Leica. :)

  • Ilkka

    It is an unfortunate fact of life that you are taken more seriously if you have a serious camera. In street photography that is often a disadvantage. It is better to blend in with a small compact and look like a harmless tourist than a serious photographer. Leica is sort of In-between. Most people don’t really know what it is, just a small camera. So less impressive than a big DSLR. Of course, photographers do know and there are plenty of us around. And that leads to these questions, comments, admiration or disapproval.
    First impressions are sometimes important. One famous wedding photographer once (long ago) told me that he used Hasselblad because not many guests have that and those who know a bit about photography know that it is a good and expensive camera. It is hard to be a young wedding photographer and be taken seriously when half the guests have better cameras than the paid pro.
    Of course this has nothing to do with the quality of images. But the first impression still counts. You cannot carry your portfolio around your neck so that it is the first thing people see when they first meet you. If you are a photographer, they see your camera, and like it or not they will form impression of you based on that. Does it matter? Usually not. But it can if you are still young in your profession and have been paid to do the job. When you are famous enough, then it doesn’t matter anymore. If you are confident enough, then it doesn’t matter either, regardless of experience.

  • Ilkka

    It is funny how it goes. Somebody who drives a Ferrari is considered rich. Nobody thinks he is an especially good driver or ‘professional’ driver. Nobody thinks that a person who has an expensive Mont Blanc fountain pen is a good writer. So why do people assume that a person carrying a Leica or a Nikon D4 or Canon 1Dx must be a good photographer?

  • Carl

    Far too many people confuse social media skills with photographic talent.

  • Keithbg

    I’ve shot with Leicas for a very long time. They are definitely not for everything. Technology has progressed so much, that a camera, the 10th of the price of Leica, can give a it a run for its money. I still use mine, but I find myself using my Ricoh GR more. One of the best small P&S cameras I have every used on the street, was my Panasonic LX1. That camera had virtually no shutterlag.

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