A year in the life of photographer Adam Johnson – Travel & Personal – 2017
Normally I have one compact-ish camera that I use for personal photos (away from weddings), and this year that was the Olympus OM-D EM5ii. A pointlessly long acronymic name for a super annoying little camera that I hate quite passionately. If you read last year’s post (which I’m sure you did, you seem like an avid reader of my narcissistic ramblings) you’ll know that I sold the Sony RX1R (which by the way I had also grown to passionately hate) at the end of last year so I could buy the Olympus. And I regret that decision daily, sometimes a few times a day. Sob. If you own a Sony RX1R and would like to give it to me, that’d make my life. Thanks.
A few years ago I used to shoot a bit of film. I was obsessed with it. Then I fell out of love with it and I sold all my film cameras. It’s a running joke amongst my friends that I often end up re-buying stuff I’ve sold and true to form this year I re-bought the same medium format film camera I sold a few years ago – the beastly Mamiya RB67. I also bought a Contax G1 and a Leica Minilux because of their reputations as magic makers. I bought all these cameras partly to rediscover my film addiction, but mainly just to shake things up in my photographic psyche. To introduce some unpredictability and chaos, and also to just have a choice of cameras that I can grab when I feel like taking photos which is actually something I find to be a weirdly extremely mentally difficult thing to do in day-to-day life.
I’ve long tried to work out why that is. Why does picking up my camera and taking photos of my life feel so hard sometimes? And my only philosophy is this… when I’m at a wedding, I’m there but I’m not personally part of the moments that are happening. So by photographing them I get to be a tiny fleeting part of them but also by being behind the camera I’m not missing anything because they’re not my moments to live – they’re just my moments to capture. By their very nature they belong to someone else. But when I’m in my own world, they’re my moments. And often I feel by putting a camera between them and me, I stop being a part of them. Maybe, anyway. Who knows?!
So buying all these film cameras… and a fridge full of film… and an expensive scanner to scan the negatives… has helped me want to take photos of my own life a bit more than I might have otherwise! That’s my excuse anyway! Photography absolutely isn’t about cameras, it’s true. But photography absolutely is about creativity and inspiration – and having cameras you actually want to pick up and use because you trust that they’ll repay you with something special is way way more than half the battle I think. I love the cameras I use for weddings and trust them implicitly. I’d go so far as to say that I adore them, but they feel too big and professional looking to lug around the park or beach being that guy.
People often ask me why I choose to shoot film. The truth is I don’t know. I do know I can get sharper images with digital cameras. I also know that I’d be able to edit them much more comprehensively. I also know it’s cheaper, quicker and easier to shoot digital. But I shoot film because of that reason which is impossible to articulate. And you only get it if you get it… I love the randomness of it. It introduces an element of chaos – you have to trust what your brain is seeing and put faith in that because you’ll only know if you got what you were hoping for weeks later when the negatives come back from the lab… or in some cases months later when you finally get round to scanning those negatives! In my opinion, film is totally and utterly impractical for weddings but fun to play around with when there’s time in between!
So I hope you enjoy the photos below… A totally random cross-section of a very random year on a random collection of cameras in which my photo-taking can best be described as erratic!
Merry Christmas, love and happiness to you and all the people you love, from me and all the people I love. I hope that 2018 is your best year ever. I’m signing off now to continue my usual mince pie binge. See you on the treadmill in January!
As they say in Louisiana: Laissez les bon temps rouler! Let the good times roll!