News & New Products
Panasonic targets professionals with its new Lumix G9 mirrorless camera, Leica revives the CL badge on a new ‘APS-C’ mirrorless camera, a major firmware upgrade gives Hasselblad’s X1D a bunch of new features, Sony launches the A7R III which combines 43 MP and 10 fps, Epson applies the EcoTank concept to an A3 format photo printer, and much more. For the latest news from the imaging industry visit www.avhub.com.au
The proverbial busman’s holiday is defined by the dictionary as “a vacation during which a person engages in activity that is the same as or similar to his or her usual employment”. So, as the summer holiday season is upon on us, does it make sense for photographers to pack away the cameras and do something else during the break?
Personally, I don’t think so… at least not going as far as giving up photography altogether. Being freed from the normal schedules, the demands of deadlines and the day-to-day business of running a business is the perfect opportunity to try something different photographically, especially if you happen to be away from home and in new surroundings as well. After all, to quote another popular saying, a change is as good as a rest. More importantly, this is the time to recharge the creative batteries and find new inspirations, explore different ideas, and add to your repertoire of skills and techniques. It doesn’t have to be formalised or have particular goals – that’s a bit too much like still being at work – but the idea is to be open to everything and anything.
Where to start? Well, when did you last take some time to look at the work of others? I don’t mean a quick browse so it’s all forgotten after a couple of minutes, but a serious immersion whereby you really try to understand what it’s all about. And I’m not only thinking photographers here, but other visually creative people… artists, illustrators, cartoonists, film-makers. Nor do they have to be contemporary… pick one of the greats from the past and delve into every aspect of their life and work. There are, of course, numerous online sources of imagery, but this too is a bit like still being ‘at the office’ – well, your computer probably is in the office anyway – so I’m suggesting going old-school and visiting a gallery or buying a book, new or second-hand. I’m a great fan of visiting the major metropolitan art galleries because it’s an experience, and the surroundings – whether classic or contemporary – are conducive to contemplation. Don’t rush it, spend a whole day there (most have excellent cafes where you can ‘do lunch’) – which isn’t hard to do in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Canberra. And art gallery bookshops can easily chew up an absorbing hour or two (not to mention taking a serious bite out of your credit card). Many smaller towns around Australia have excellent regional galleries as well as a diversity of privately-run venues so, if you’re on holiday, set time aside to visit them all, because it’s often here that ‘unknowns’ can stun you with their abilities. It’s very tempting to dismiss local art as somehow being inferior, but how many photographers’ first exhibitions – perhaps even your’s – were in a small gallery space or possibly even in a coffee shop, restaurant or village hall? Look and learn.
Just returning to photography books for a minute, there can be few more enjoyable holiday pastimes than settling down with a coffee (AM) or a glass of wine (PM) and spending quality time leafing through pages of beautifully reproduced images. A quick visit to the ‘Art & Photography’ section of your local bookshop may just surprise you with the sheer choice of new volumes celebrating photographers both past and present… who said ink-on-paper is dead?
So what about some more active…er, activities? It’s not difficult to be inspired by somewhere new, but what about your local surroundings? It’s easy to overlook the commonplace and everyday, but with a bit of spare time on your hands, what about taking a closer look? Chances are you’ll start seeing things that you’ve never noticed before… and what about trying shooting at night, or at dawn when a place is waking up? Even quite small towns can be a hive of activity first thing in the morning. And – although I would say this, wouldn’t I – don’t use your work cameras, buy something new and very different to shoot with. I know cameras ultimately don’t make images, but changing gear is beneficial on many levels… for starters, it’s fun because you can buy something you like, rather than need, and it also often compels you to rethink things, change old habits or learn new ways of working. I’m not suggesting going feral here and returning to film (too much like hard work), but there’s now so much variety in the digital camera world that, if you’re still welded (or, indeed, wedded) to the D-SLR, it’s probably time for a change. Try something completely different, like an actioncam, for example. Alternatively, the one-camera-and-one-lens exercise is always an informative one, especially if you take on the challenge of using only a prime. Guaranteed you’ll start seeing in new ways.
Notice that I haven’t mentioned smartphones or computers? It’s deliberate. They’re too tied up with work. This refresh is all about distilling everything down to just you, a camera and plenty of time… in other words pure photography. Forget fad diets, meditation, yoga or howling at the full Moon… this actually works, and comes with the potential for long-term benefits both personally and professionally. Take a break, take stock, take some great photographs – and then be ready to take 2018 head-on.
Paul Burrows, Editor