Gareth Williams

Selfie of Gareth Williams
Gareth Williams

O.K. I have done this before with the ‘my history and photos’ bit a couple of years (or more) ago so here is an update from a now rather grumpy older man.
I still do digital – overwhelmingly for the majority of actual shots taken but digital accounts for only a minority of the keepers – no I’m not going to go down the film v digital road, there’s no point- they both now do the job. Its just that medium format film cameras work best for me because they are slow enough to let me think.

If I were a pro, and thank goodness for my soul and for the world I’m not, I would have to shoot digital only – goes with the territory.
So I get time to think, which is always dangerous and much of my time is spent reading and thinking about photography and have come to some conclusions:

  1. Camera manufacturers do not want you to be well equipped – they want you to be very expensively equipped and to be deluded that next year’s model will improve your photography or mine- of course we all know it won’t and that once one realizes this and gets off the upgrade roundabout the hobby becomes much, very much, cheaper.
    If you can’t get great shots with a 40 year old Nikon with only three controls you certainly won’t do so with a camera needing a 300 page manual!
  2. If you can’t photograph well with one lens you certainly won’t with two- or more. The probable outcome of a large bag isn’t great images- it’s a hernia.
  3. Nothing photographic is quite as difficult as landscapes or frequently as disappointing (Adams) – so why do we all try it?. The worst landscape work is over saturated, over filtered and too contrasty. These shots end up in dedicated magazines where they can do most damage because naive readers imagine this is what they need to imitate to be regarded as successful.
    Historically though, nearly all the great pictures of the last 150 years feature people- and most of them aren’t particularly sharp either! Lens and camera reviews are irrelevant to photography. Any decent camera produced since 1880 and still working can do good work.
  4. Most images in magazines and exhibitions are worthless eye candy. The good stuff is more often to be found in books. Remember though: Great photographers don’t just get their pictures in books – the books are usually written about them.

Some quotes I found which made me think:

  • The camera cannot lie- but liars do take photographs. P. H. Emerson 1880
  • I never read a book on Photoshop or went on a course. I just push the buttons till it looks right – Clyde Butcher 2004
  • To Robert Frank I now give this message: You got eyes – Jack Kerouac 1958
  • The Art Photographer, really an unsuccessful painter with a bag of mysterious tricks- Walker Evans 1931
  • Ultimately the photograph is a statement, a document of the now. Berenice Abbott 1951
    It’s still fun though!