the photoshooter's journey from taking to making

I GOT THEM ‘NEW TOYS BLUES’ AGAIN, MAMA

By MICHAEL PERKINS

All the odds are in my favorSomething’s bound to beginIt’s gotta happen, happen sometimeMaybe this timeMaybe this time, I’ll win

EVERY PHOTOGRAPHER CAN IDENTIFY with Liza Minnelli’s hope, expressed in the musical Cabaret, that her personal losing streak is about to end. The very first time you click a shutter, you create the unbridgeable gap between what you see and what your hands and the machine can re-create, and, in our various disappointments, we theorize about what it’ll take to get us back on the path. More instruction? Travel? Mentoring with a master?

Or how about a new piece of kit?

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We’ve written exhaustively about the allure of so-called G.A.S., or Gear Acquisition Syndrome, the intoxicating belief that our very next camera or lens will turn the trick on our fortunes, somehow transforming us into the master photog we were born to be. The new toys’ attributes waft out of the brochure like the perfumes of a thousand Arabian dancing girls, curling around our hopes, blinding us with the seductive aroma of “next time”. And, while new gear often can allow us to execute things better from a technical standpoint, we are destined, in most cases, to settle into a kind of post-purchase melancholy when we realize that, after the Christmas-morning glow burns off, we just have one more piece of equipment to lug around with no ironclad guarantee of wholesale improvement.¬† And them New Toys Blues are hard to shake, baby. Especially once the credit card statement posts.

Of course, we need to forgive ourselves if we occasionally lapse into the habit of seeing better picture-making as somehow coming at us from outside ourselves. After all, we must invest our money and trust in external devices to a degree. However, on our best days, we realize, at least for a while, that “the odds”, as the song goes, are already in our favor. Our best images still flow from us, not to us.

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