So, it’s been some time since I’ve talked about this camera. I credit this camera with being the camera that actually taught me what photography really was. It wasn’t the Leica M9 or Leica M8 I had before this. Wasn’t the M6 or the M3.
It was this, the Sony DSC-W100.
You may be thinking, how is this possible? Well, it is simple.
Take the two photos above. Each taken with the camera not pictured. Of these two photos, I far prefer the one taken with the Sony. This isn’t a testament to the technical capabilities of the camera, don’t get me wrong. It is something else entirely.
The photos are essentially of the same thing. When I took the photo with the Leica, I didn’t consider the background. Not really, anyway. I didn’t need to. With an ND filter and f2 there was no need. There isn’t much context. There isn’t much soul.
The second photo, taken with the Sony, took a lot more mental effort. Settings on a camera are like learning times tables. Eventually, you just know what is what. A photo like the first with the Leica didn’t take any effort. The Sony photo, I had to consider the background, the context, and the framing. I took one without the strap, and then realized the strap would make the photo more interesting. The settings, well, they just set themselves. It is a point and shoot after all.
My first meeting with this Sony was when I found it under the seat of my Aunt’s car. It had spent two hard and long Newfoundland winters there and it showed. It took some TLC to get it going again. After I did get it going, I realized after my first 10 or so photos that this camera wasn’t something I was used to. Its limitations forced me to think about things like composition and background. They forced me to use the flash and figure out how to make the flash work for me. The camera forced me to learn how to “make” a photograph instead of taking one. Taking a photograph involved settings and maths. Making a photograph involves vision and instinct.
For instance, if a background is busy on a Leica I would be more inclined to shoot wide open. On the Sony, I am forced to find alternative ways to frame a photo or use flash to isolate a subject. It is an interesting dichotomy.
I have two basic styles of shooting. First, I like to shoot with things like a rangefinder. I like soft and nostalgic photos. I like taking them. For me, making a photo in that situation is figuring out what scene would work. It is figuring out where and when. It is about making photographs that I will want to remember.
Fond memories, as it were.
The second style is reserved for less fond memories. Nostalgic? I suppose so, but of a different kind. These photos tend to be harsher and darker. Some people have criticized (politely and constructively) for getting away from this style. The fact of the matter is, I just haven’t been in that “place” for some time. Over the past couple days I had been. I should say, all these photos were taken from in my apartment in the small-ish town of Iksan, South Korea.
All photographs, in my estimation, are somehow self portraits of the photographer who has taken them. Maybe I shouldn’t generalize but for me this is certainly the case. My photographs directly reflect my mood. If they are nostalgic, I’m probably feeling such. If they are moody, the same. I don’t take photos with much conscious thought. They just are, what they are.
I don’t take photos with my mind. I heard Anders Petersen once say that he shoots with his gut and edits with his brain. I think I do everything with my gut. I do it all without much thought or reason. Maybe I’m weird, I don’t know.
On a different note, there are two cameras featured in this blog post and one is literally worth the price of a coffee while the other is worth as much as many of these cars pictured. To be honest, I just as much like the photos from the Sony. I love shooting with a Leica, if I’m happy. Being happy, a Leica feels like my friend. A Leica feels like a dependable dog that I want to take out for a walk. I usually have a jump in my step when I’m shooting with one.
The Sony, on the other hand, I take out when I’m down or depressed. I don’t want to feel happy when I take photos with it. I have no idea why this is the case. I take it out when I need time to think about something else. The photos tend to be more chaotic, probably because they match my state of mind when I’m using it. The camera has died several times but always seems to come back to life with enough time and prodding. People say I should buy another, I’m not sure I should. I don’t think a new one will ever be the same.
Truthfully, it has many faults. I mean, the distortion is horrible (not bad at 50mm equivalent like above but horrible at 38) and takes the completely stupid Sony memory cards. These are basically the reason I hate using it more than anything else. Fuck, I hate those stupid cards. I’d love to just edit the photos from this camera on my phone or iPad.
However, it is the camera that taught me how to be a “photographer”..
It is the camera that stopped me taking photos.
And started me making them.
On a side note, the Wearethestreet workshop still has some spots available for our July workshops in Seoul. If you follow the link above you can find all the information needed to sign up! Would love to see some of you out for it! I’m excited to hang out with all of you, plus Junku, Sean, Nick, Aik, and Chulsu as well as the Leica Korea team.
Or, at the very least, come out to the exhibition!