An essay on the Sony RX1 and on photography in general

It’s quite extraordinary. I seem to have re-discovered something. Rediscovered my love of taking photographs – in London!

The thing is; London being my home, it never really makes me want to go out there and take pictures in the same way a foreign exotic country might. London has no camels and reeking markets and dodgy pesky hawkers (well…sort of). Most of London is familiar to me like the back of my hands. Unlike say Patagonia or India or South America. When you’re in those places you really feel you’re ‘out there’ in the world and all you see is new and fresh. I often wish I could somehow recreate that ‘foreign-ness’, that freshness, whilst out and about in London Town. You know – to see things as if new again. To pretend to be a tourist and be excited when walking down the Charing Cross Road or The Mall or Covent Garden.

Well this weekend, I was out and about with the Sony RX1 – and I felt…funny. I felt the same way I do when I’m abroad. I felt like taking pictures. Lots of pictures! And I felt like I was seeing lots of pictures. More than I usually do.

The anaesthetic of familiarity can kill creativity.

I’ve thought about this – thought about why I was feeling like this, and I’m pretty sure it’s not simply a novelty factor associated with owning a brand new camera. it’s not! It’s not novelty – well not totally anyway, because I didn’t feel quite like this with any of my previous camera purchases. I mean I was excited when I brought the XPro1. But that eventually kinda died away and the camera languished…

Why is it different – (for me) – with the RX1?

Good question. I really have to think about this. What is it about this camera that is different? And also, will the novelty wear off – eventually…?

What it is I think – (and I have thought about this) – is the fact that I can walk the streets without feeling that I am actually carrying a camera with me on my person! But then I could do that with the RX100 anyway? But there’s a difference with the RX100 because I felt I was compromising. And I hate to compromise. With the RX1 I don’t feel I am compromising at all. In fact, I don’t feel I am lugging a camera around with me at all. It fits in my pocket. It can handle almost anything (apart from action shots) – and most importantly, nobody notices it. Nobody.

Wow. So – that means, I am no longer purposefully out there for the purpose of taking pictures. I am on the street for some other reason, and I just happen to have a camera with me!

Why should it matter what others think?

Well it doesn’t. But it also does. It’s hard to explain.

Let me try and recreate a feeling. I was in my local park over the weekend with the RX1 taking shots of leaves, trees, branches, benches, the sky, the grass, walls, buildings, doors, signs, empty beer bottles and abandoned places. I’ve never enjoyed myself so much! Suddenly I realised that there was a treasure trove of photographic opportunities in my local neighbourhood – and I began wondering how it was that this treasure trove had alluded me. You don’t have to go far to find interesting stuff to take pictures of. You can find stuff not far from your own doorstep.

Why was I feeling like this now? Had I not taken the other cameras out when they were new? The XPro1, and the X100 and the GH2 – well, yes I had but for some reason I always ended up comparing the image quality and the speed and the features with my SLR. You see the thing is I felt like I was compromising with these cameras. But image quality is NOT everything. Right? Yes – that’s true. But with the RX1 I no longer care or worry about what lens I have with me or image quality. I no longer have to feel regret about leaving another camera at home.

The RX1 is all there is. That is my tool. I can’t change the lens. It’s fixed. But it is wide enough to allow me to crop later if I have to. It exercises – nay it forces me – to exercise those creative muscles. I can carry it on my wrist strap and walk around with it without a care in the world – knowing, in my heart, that here is a photo taking machine, to rival anything else out there.

I don’t need to worry about lenses or equipment.

Or image quality.

Or lack of depth of field and ISO’s.

It’s finally, just about the photography.

I can immerse myself in the world.

Life is rich. You don’t have to venture far to see that richness. It’s right in front of your nose. The trick is to go out there in a contemplative frame of mind. Just wander slowly. Don’t hurry. Keep your eyes open. Look for the things that you see, but you don’t usually see.

Seeing is not really about the eyes anyway.

It’s mostly about the mind.

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