I think I am beyond help.
Just as I am saying I have enough cameras and I need to prune the collection; suddenly I am buying another camera and not even a Voigtländer.
Why do we do it? (Using “we” here in the hope that you there reading this are of the same disposition, please don’t enlighten me if you are not and leave me to my blissful ignorance and happiness that I am not alone in this crazy pursuit.)
I just can’t help myself, I can’t resist an interesting camera at a reasonable price. And I just can’t help looking either. Sometimes I try to kid myself that I’m only looking for specific cameras and that I am sticking to the one brand or a defined thing that I need yet I suddenly get and urge and ‘DING’ PayPal takes a hit.
Over the last year or so, I have sold some cameras but as I review the situation I am fairly sure my acquisitions outnumber my sales. I think I need to sit myself down and have a serious conversation with myself.
I’m not really sure whether I am looking for something and have not yet found it or whether I am just a collector and that is the way I am (I think the latter).
The thing is, these cameras interest me. I like the aesthetic, the feel of them and the mechanical nature of them not to mention their ability to make wonderful images. I like the fact these are historical objects and that at some time in the past they have traveled, worked and captured moments in peoples lives.
The concept of a camera is simple, an adjustable hole with a lens, a shutter that opens and closes and a method for moving film to the next frame. That’s all you need and yet the range and styles and features that are available that augment those three things is amazing and the ingenuity to improve on the basic idea astounding.
I also realize of late that I am a celebrity hunter; no not those B-list people on the TV, I mean camera celebrities. As I read a book or magazine that features a particular photographer of the past, I might notice the camera that they used. And I wonder what that camera was like and why they chose it over the others available. Take this for example, about a year ago I saw a picture of W. Eugine Smith and around his neck was a Miranda Sensorex; I’ve never seen one in person and I start to research them. I have no intention to buy one (it doesn’t fit my collection) and yet I frequently search and browse them and keep an eye on prices etc. Suddenly out of the blue last week I see one and now I am awaiting it’s delivery!
I think it is something to do with the relative inexpensiveness of the majority of film cameras; you can pick up very good machines for less than a tank of fuel (I find the price of a tank of fuel a useful constant for basing purchases on – whether cameras or not). This easy to reach price point allows one to try out different examples and see what they are like. Take my recent post about Leicas, they are more than a tank of fuel and so I can’t bring myself to invest on a whim.
Whim is the right word, this is a hobby that is difficult to justify to anyone else and my need to buy yet another example is not fully understood; so I have to limit the whim on cost; anything more than a tank of fuel is an investment that has to be justified.