I have been a firm believer of that if you look after the things you own, take good care and repair when damaged or broken, they may end up serving you a lifetime and even better yet, someone else in the future when you are gone. Things should be made with legacy in mind; to count the numbers of uses, like the number of days, like it was originally design to last forever. Where has this sentiment disappeared to? Where are the designs of forever in the minds of those who create such things? Is there a light bulb that still burns today as bright as is had once 100 years ago? Or is there a camera that can still take pictures of today like it did of yesteryear? I encourage nothing more than to re-adopt the philosophy of doing something right the first time and creating quality to last 1000 years, or longer. May we spiritualise these things that are seen upon for the next generations to come; to enjoy and use like the forefathers of great ideals and notions of wanting things to last and not wanting things to waste. A waste is all in the name.
As an image creator, I strive to find the instruments of my trade, those instruments that were created to last. I try to find tools that have purpose to create the images of mind. To find value in something seemingly worthless by today’s standards and to create something that everyone sees as classic and beautiful in a piece of old gear forgotten and even thrown away, brings me, as a painter of light, the joy to be able to feel the power of something that was designed to last, but forgotten for the next, new improvement of our fast paced, technologically advanced world. My industry is a great industry, at the same time responsible for a lot of waste and only money in mind.
Some of the cameras that were designed just 10 years ago are obsolete, according to industry leaders. In some way, that could be true. As technology advances, so does image creation and the ability to do so with ease. However, when looking at some of the quality that has been created already, maybe over 10 years ago, there hasn’t been much change on the way we go about creating the picture. Light, the very essence of our craft, is still the element (of fire) we crave to control and use. Without light, regardless of the thousands of ISO marks one has on his or her camera, would be no picture. But without the camera, the optics, the light and the knowledge to combine them to work together, there would be no image either. They co-exist.
I challenge anyone who cares about the creation of images to find themselves an old quality tool and use it on today’s professional setting and, I bet you a good old dollar, that you are able to create a compelling, beautiful and rich image that many can and will enjoy, at a fraction of the cost. You will be surprised. I have been looking for some years on the marketplace for good equipment and I know that the value in such items is rising. As the items become older and rarer, the value in these things also increases. Why? Because it was built with purpose and quality in mind. It was designed for the user to use it for their entire career and the next and the next. Without naming any names, the ones who know know the names of quality. I have found that if you can successfully create an image with any camera, you can do it with a camera from the 1940’s. If you can’t, then not even the most state of the art camera of today can do it for you.
The principles on how we create images has not changed. How can you improve something that is already balanced? Well, the argument there is that now the access of such gear is widely available and for a very, very good price. I am astounded that I can have an award winning piece of gear, that I can use in my lifetime, that someone in the days gone could never dreamed to ever own and is not available on you local market for weeks wage.
That doesn’t mean you should go out and buy one for the hell of it. But buy whatever it is you are buying with purpose and intent. Sometimes less is more. In the world we live in today, that Less could be an advice we can all share across all industries. I remember distinctly as a child someone once advising that “quality over quantity is the balance of a good life.” Whoever that person, thank you. Great advice to be sprinkled around to the masses of today to digest.
The bottom line is: take in to consideration the actions of what you do in the act of image creation and use what you have and use it well. Look after your gear and keep it as best as you can, so the next person can enjoy it after you. Share what you have, as someone might not have the opportunity like you do to have access or purchase great gear. Creativity is better shared, like life. If you don’t use it, pass it on or put it up for sale. There is no greater feeling to release yourself from the clutches of materials. You never know, that thing you passed on to the next person might make the flow of creativity smoother. Eventually that flow comes back your way, even if you are 100 years old.
That is it from me and warm greetings from the winter shying middle lands of Midt-Telemark.
Patrick Webb, 4th of Nov 2020.