the photoshooter's journey from taking to making

HOORAY. DAMN.

By MICHAEL PERKINS

I DON’T UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT OF AN IMPULSE PURCHASE. Everyone who buys things (so…everyone) has some code in their DNA that dictates how they go about the process, and I know that, for some, there is a virtually unbroken space of time between I Want It and I’ll Take It.

I don’t know what that’s like.

Every purchase I make, great or small, is, for me, a matter of exhaustive research, self-reproach, deliberation, and/or paralysis. And right now I’m experiencing all of those things to an excruciating degree, because right now, like, this week, I’m about to purchase a camera.

I buy cameras not when I want them (which is all the time), nor when I first need them (which is when most sensible people might do so), but only after my current camera is literally disintegrating in my hands, or about the time I am desperate for a replacement. The result of this desperation is an intense program of investigation of all products and their respective claims. I search endlessly for the best functions, price, performance and reliability, but not just for reasons connected to the making of photographs. I mostly do all this homework so I will ensure that it will be a long, long time before I have to go through all this agony again anytime soon.

DSC_0570

Wait, does this come in full-frame, too?

This approach, of course, drains any potential enjoyment out of the project, with dread replacing anticipation and fear of failure subbed for excitement..or what I call the hooray-damn syndrome. It’s sick…that is, it makes me literally ill, with many a temptation to chuck the entire task and maybe attempt surgery on my old camera, or perhaps sacrifice a goat over the gravesite of George Eastman.

This is typically the portion of the program where someone in the audience raises a hand and remarks, diplomatically, “wait…that’s not normal, is it?”

Well, I can only speak for myself, of course, but I suspect that all my agita and itchy rashes are not, strictly speaking, what I’m supposed to be feeling. And yet, wading through the goopy internet soup of conflicting reviews, opinion-makers, influencers and, let’s face it, plain old cranks is enough to make me regard organ donation as a seaside romp versus selecting a damn camera that works.

Part of this dilemma lies with the manufacturers, of course, who market features and options with as much aggression as they do the basics of their devices. It’s a little like saying that a car manufacturer gives as much weight to the floor mats and cupholders as they do to the engine or transmission. Cameras are so loaded with toys that add to the flash of their newest models that it’s easy to drown in effects that one may seldom, if ever, use, when the main idea of the purchase is making pictures, which, when all is said and done, is not that bloody complicated. We say we came for the steak, but we often reach for our wallets at the first sound of the sizzle.

Maybe my buying anxiety is just another version of my wanting, throughout my life, to reduce the chance that I’ll make the wrong decision…in anything…where I’ll live, what I’ll work at, which toothpaste to use, or whatever. I’d love to know what an impulse purchase feels like. If I did, I’d have someone take a picture of me making one.

If I could only decide which camera to use…

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