When I am not taking photographs, one of the other things I like to do is ride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and I have said many times, “you’re never alone with a Harley”.
The reason I say this is that no matter where you are, the moment you park, someone will come up to you and want to admire the bike and talk about riding it, polishing it, how much it costs, whether they leak oil and break down and a host of other topics.
Now it might be because it’s the day before Christmas Eve and people are much more friendly than usual and more willing to talk, but the same thing seems to apply to photography.
I was in Leadenhall Market in the City of London looking for last minutes gifts, savouring the atmosphere, and taking a few pictures. I hadn’t even got the camera out of the bag before I was approached by a man and a woman and the man enquired if I was a professional. I have no idea what gave him that idea but it is nice to know I look the part.
I immediately said no, as I assumed that he was the market superintendent, about to tell me that it was private property and if I didn’t have a permit, I had better move on or the ghost of Christmas Past would come down to haunt me.
However, this was not the case. He was one of a massive and growing body of people who want to move on from taking snaps on a compact camera but don’t have a clue what it is all about. We talked about what costs the money in a camera, why some are better than others, zoom lenses and electronic zoom and a host of other things. It seems that he hasn’t had too good an experience talking to people in camera shops and was looking for advice wherever he could find it.
Good for him, asking questions is the best way of getting the answers in my experience. I told him to play it safe and go for Canon or Nikon, set a budget and go buy a digital SLR with and 18 to 200 zoom lens or thereabouts and try a few in the shop and see which he prefers in terms of weight etc. I could have gone on to tell him to go to Grays of Westminster, Jacobs in New Oxford Street, Morris Photographic or several others that I like but I was itching to take my shots.
The moral of this tale, if there is one is simply that it is good to talk and compare notes and I hope that when we are out taking photographs, even if it isn’t Christmas, we can bond as photographers, rather like bikers do in order to share and enhance our joint passion.
Have a very Merry Christmas.