The X100 convinced me that I need far less gear, so I've been selling off tons of gear rather mercilessly of late. Some nice gentleman in Sausalito now owns my absolute favourite medium format lens of all time, a lens I paid thousands for and until this year... until this very summer... I never once thought I would ever, ever, part with. Another in Michigan now owns my favorite big macro. Hopefully someone else will own my 3 pound portrait lens and another a big collection of bodies, backs and other things.
As recently as the spring I was still shooting 120 b+w film and still enjoyed it but wasn't satisfied with how the gear limited or how I let the gear limit photographic opportunities. Truth be told I hadn't been happy with what I'd been doing photographically for a number of years and while I can't completely blame a big case full of gear for slowing me down, when I pick up a nice compact camera today and look at what I can do with it, vs the 20 pound case anchoring me down, there is no question that portability plays a huge role in what drives me now.
It took me far too long to realize the gear I had - all great and wonderful stuff to be sure - and the related processing work had sapped from me the fun of photography, even though for quite a few years I had been over the top happy with what I was doing. Life changed - single becomes married, infants become teenagers, workaholic becomes rational about where important time should be spent - lots of things changed but I didn't adapt my photography so I simply didn't do as much and I really, really, regret that.
Old ways sure are hard to change though. Even as recently as mid-summer this year I still had no intention of changing course. I kept thinking "if only"... if only I improved the darkroom or if only I got through the rest of our renos I'd have more time to lug the "big" camera around or if only I had a better scanner that satisfied my desire for clean output or if only...
Thankfully something helped snap me out of my dumb-think. An off the cuff comment made by someone I barely know but had come to respect set me on a new course. Thanks to a gentle push I checked into this new breed of camera - advanced compacts - and I was seduced. Good enough output in the palm of my hand was enough to cause me to throw caution to the wind, uncharacteristically for me, and I bought an X100 in short order with only cursory research since it seemed like a safe enough bet. I came back from a three week trip a changed person, photographically speaking, and maybe in some subtle other ways too.
Several months later, all of them spent with the X100, has more than convinced me that less is more. Actually... I think it only took a week or two to accomplish the mind-shift! The ensuing months have simply cemented for me that I'm on the right track.
That little Fuji camera has made such a difference and I'm back to enjoying photography like it was all brand new to me again back in the late 70s when I first dove in hard on a poor student's wage.
One principle of my new personal manifesto is that the only gear that matters is that which you can take with you all the time. The X100 allowed me to do that and still get what I wanted out of photography.
To be honest I'm not entirely sure I've made the right decision but I've also sold the X100.
I can't decide if I'm insane or am still following the right path, but I'm determined to have just one small camera. Since I'm selling *everything* else off, I'm allowing myself the luxury of having a couple other focal lengths, which speaks to an interchangeable lens camera. I don't want to have to deal with other cameras, other makers, other software... I just want one and the plan is to keep it and focus on observation and making images, not on hardware discussions.
Hopefully I won't let this desire for a tiny amount of flexibility spiral out of control. If I do, I'm selling it all and buying the X100 again or whatever best represents the simple ethos of that camera at the time.
Keep everything simple. And keep it small so it can be close at hand, every day.
Oops, well I updated that post. Is it improved? No idea but it might be a little more honest or at least while I was rewriting part of it I felt more honest. I really screwed up a big chunk of a decade when I could have been having fun again with photography. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Never again.
Selling off gear that I let -- my fault -- hold me back certainly has been a useful, even cathartic, exercise.
But damn I miss my X100 because I don't have a small camera (except my phone) to take with me! Hmnn....the PHONE why didn't I think of that before. Images to follow in due course.
Thanks to all, this has really been terrific! Not exactly where I thought it might go when I first posted. Very inspirational. Definitely has me thinking, but more about image making than gear acquisition. Many thanks especially to flysurfer and adanac for sharing the wisdom gleaned from personal experience. See you at the Philosophy of Photography Forum.