This stress is one of many options to explain (male) photographer’s constant GAS 😉
Another quick post, to examine a thought that arose after listening to a HiFi dealer interview. My dealer.
He explains that one of his customers, an orchestra conductor, owns an old and quite poor audio system. That man reconstructs the music in his head, rather than listen to it passively. And likewise, most professional musicians seem disinterested in utmost quality in audio reproduction gear. There appears to be a spectrum of relationship to music ranging from active (composers, artists) to passive (consumer, audiophile) which parallels an increasing hifi investment spectrum. Those willing to spend more seem to enjoy sound more than music. Those focused solely on music are unwilling to spend more than necessary to convey the vital information to their mind (although there are, of course, exceptions).
And we’ve all heard similar – though not identical -comments in the photo arena: “Gear doesn’t matter. Great photographers will shoot great images whatever the gear. Gear is no substitute for talent.” And so on.
While there may be some underlying truth in those broad remarks, they feel like a judgemental over-simplification to me.
I can think of other differences between audio and photography. Maybe sound is a more right-brained sense than sight, for instance. But mainly, one is about creation, the other about consumption.
Creating an image puts the pressure on the author. Consuming a musical reproduction puts the pressure on the artists, the recording and on the playback gear. That introduces a major difference in stress and in the role of gear in both hobbies.
The audiophile takes the approach of a collector, gradually building a system that suits his/her ear and listening preferences, as well as personal philosophy and relationship to music. It takes skill and patience.
Gear, for the photographer, cannot as easily provide the same level of passive enjoyment. Yes, it’s possible for photographers with the financial means to acquire cameras and lenses well above their shooting skills. But that soons feels hollow and unsatisfactory. Like the audiophile, the photographer requires gear that matches his/her relationship with image making.
When it comes to sound, you are either trained musically, and tend not to fuss about reproduction quality all that much, or are trained in understanding gear technicalities and their impact on sound, with little need for overlap between the two approaches (and no exclusion either, some people enjoy both sides of the coin).
But when it comes to images, we are making them, not consuming them, through our gear. And the training has to be in image-making, in order to prove satisfactory. There is very little to learn about the impact of gear on aesthetics, particularly today (though understanding how to use it is a necessary step).
This puts pressure on us as creators, in the same way as audiophiles feel the pressure of creating a great system. And photographers tend to flock towards pressure-relieving gear. Cameras that see in the dark. Lenses that focus instantly. Systems so fast and sharp no image is ever lost. But I don’t think that helps alleviate the stress. In fact, the new rise to power of film photography proves otherwise (Kodak, in spite of every attempt to overprice itself into a corner, cannot follow demand for its filmstock. For now).
As with enjoyment of music, I believe that the secret in enjoying photography is taking an active role, whatever the gear we use. Music lovers enjoy the active process of recreating a piece in their mind. Audiophiles enjoy the active process of building a system that mirrors who they are. Taking pleasure in photography probably requires us to take an active role in image creation, rather than delegating our tastes to social media and our technique to machines 😉
Having myself recently stumbled in HiFi, I realise what a process of self-discovery the audiophile journey can be. Just like photography. I realise my understanding of my true needs in HiFi are nowhere near as mature as in photography, in which the (gear-centric) marketing of manufacturers rolls off me like ethics on a politician.
Whether we will find joy in a rangefinder, a medium format film camera, a 30fps super mirrorless or anything else available depends largely on how involved we want to be in the creation process, and the aesthetics of the results we strive for. And, to answer the titular question: yes, creation = stress, and photographers must embrace the stress of creation, in order to enjoy photography.
The interesting thing is this. In photography, you cannot be the music lover or the audiophile. You must be both. Fluent in crafting, and fluent in tech. One more reason to love our hobby 🙂
Recently, time has been too scarce at Casa DS to work on a week links post. So let me just leave you with a few random links – not necessarily very recent – that I feel are worth a bit of your time 🙂
Happy reading 🙂
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