Near the end of 2013, I realized that my photography business was doing well but not as well as I wanted. It was profitable but took up a large portion of my free time. It wasn't my main job so there was a limit of how much time and energy I could devote to it. In order to move the business to the place I wanted it to go next, I would need to devote more time in 2014 and, unfortunately for XML Photography, I would have less time to devote, not more. So I made the hard decision to stop taking paid assignments on after December 13, 2013. I had 1 wedding to shoot in January but other than that, 2014 would be a year for personal photography only. A year later, near the end of 2014, I realized that my year of personal photography never happened.
Most of my travel in 2014 involved beaches, somewhere I've never really been comfortable taking a DSLR. I also failed to get into the habit of carrying my D800 with the 35mm lens like I planned. I've come to associate my D800 with studio work; it isn't really a camera I think of when I am going for a walk, a road trip, or a weekend vacation. As soon as I decide to take the D800 somewhere, I start thinking about what lenses I need to take, what bag/case, etc, and so it starts feeling like work. So it doesn't happen. My D800 is for studio photos and I'm didn't do any studio photos this year. I plan to lease studio space later in 2015 but not until at least late in the year. The thought of my D800 and related gear collecting dust hurts my heart so I'm selling most of the Nikon gear other than some non-G lenses I will use on my Nikon F4 35mm film camera. Film? Yeah, that brings me to another realization I had this year.
Over the course of 2014, I bought 3 new cameras
Over the course of 2014, I bought 3 new cameras: a tiny Polaroid Cube "action lifestyle" video camera and 2 Lomo cameras (a Medium Format film camera and an instant camera). I own a camera that can take perfect photos (the D800) so I bought cameras that can not take perfect photos. Cameras that were more for fun than work. And they were fun. Not being able to take a perfect photo was very freeing, mentally. Maybe I just love toys, but these cameras were used must more than my D800 this year. Which brings me to the 4th and final camera I bought in 2014.
I decided I wanted a good digital camera but a camera for fun, not a workhorse. Not something to replace my D800 but something that (in my mind, at least) is more of a complementary opposite: something for outside the studio, something for walking around, road trips, and weekenders. I have a list of "must haves" for any camera I consider a "real" camera:
- A real viewfinder.
- Easily accessible controls, everything can't be hidden in menus.
- Customizable menus for the things that have to be hidden in menus.
- Full manual control.
- A large sensor (Full Frame would be best but DX/APS-C is fine).
Add to that list the items I wanted in my new camera:
- Smaller than a DSLR.
- Fixed lens (35mm equiv preferred).
I'm not buying into a new ecosystem so I don't want to buy lenses. I don't even want to think about lenses. The only decision I want to make before leaving the house is "should I take the camera?" not "should I take the camera? What will I be shooting? Where will I be going? What lenses should I take? Which bag will fit these lenses and also work for the trip?". I want a simple yes or no question because the answer can be "yes" and I'm done, making the new camera both a literal and figurative weight off my shoulders. 35mm is my favorite "walk around" lens length and, luckily for me, that is the length of most fixed-lens cameras. I did a little research but not a ton because the list of cameras that fit both my lists of criteria (and my budget) was short.
A literal and figurative weight off my shoulders
My Fuji X100T arrived 3 days ago. So far, it has surpassed my expectations in almost every category. I'll talk more about it in a few days when I've fully tested it and know my way around it a little better. I can say this: a fixed 35mm equiv lens camera is certainly a niche camera but Fuji hit this one out of the park. I plan to use it daily for the next 365 days. I hope to work with and within the limitations of the camera to inject some life into my art and put myself back on the path of making photos, something I have missed over the last few months. I plan to post a photo a day. I plan to explore my art in a way I haven't in a while. Not "outside the box" so much as "in a different box", maybe. For me, my new digital camera is the opposite of my old digital camera.
Art loves constraints. Different constraints means different art.
Here's to a new year. Here's to new hopes, new plans, new goals, and yes... here's to new toys!