It's so easy, in this world of instant accolades, to get complacent and stop searching. To believe we've somehow made it and resist change for all the wrong reasons: vanity, fear...repetition and formulas just waiting to comfort us. It's perfectly normal to develop habits and go to skills, to build a niche and exploit our individual strengths—but do we run the risk of it becoming a prison? A box from which, at some point, we can no longer escape?
Maybe it's the season—this bad cold, the lingering headaches and lack of melatonin—but I've had trouble looking at my work lately. Something's been off and I'm spending a lot of time deconstructing my workflow; trying to force myself out of my comfort zone. Because easy equals standing still, eventually. Formulaic. There's nothing new about this feeling—it's been a recurring theme my entire life. But it's rarely been this acute. I need to look elsewhere. Admittedly, part of this is due to my anticipation of the GFX.
I've read a few conversations on Facebook, Twitter etc...questioning why X-Photographers, who for years have extolled the virtues of a smaller system, are now praising a return to the "big" DSLR-like GFX 50S. How this essentially proves we're all paid shills, ready to push anything Fujifilm releases. It's absolute BS. The excitement surrounding the medium format camera—at least from everyone I know—stems from what I hinted at above: the opportunity it represents for reinvention. For pushing the envelope. My friend Bert Stephani—who's been testing it for the past week—put it best when he said during a conversation: "My feeling is that the camera doesn't necessarily make better pictures but I make better pictures with it". Perfect point. Sure, the format itself, the sensor, the glass...all of it contributes to the end results and I do believe there's a quantifiable difference. But it's how it alters us that's most important. That creative influx and change of pace. In many ways it's the X100 all over again, potentially transforming how we approach our work as a whole. Tweaking our eye. That's the pull here. It's not a bloody conspiracy.
But I'll say it again: there's no such thing as magical gear. In a recent interview I even expressed concern about this, at people potentially getting in over their heads, purchasing a GFX 50S and ultimately ending up disappointed. Realizing they now have sharper and higher rez images that...don't look all that different. It's always the photographer, not the gear.
The excitement I've expressed is genuine and it also has zero to do with my relationship to Fuji. None of us are paid to push their products and we're all (AFAIK) buying our way into this new format. No free lunch. I mentioned it before: if this camera hadn't been in the works I likely would've invested in a Pentax 645Z this year. And I would've approached MF the exact same way: as an invigorating, complementary system to the X-series. Not a replacement.
The images below—like most from the past several weeks—were processed in Capture One 10. In many ways I've found myself going back to the drawing board in terms of processing, trying to leverage what this application brings to the table. The results probably aren't radically different from my usual work, but I'm excited about the possibilities I'm seeing and a certain renewed sense of discovery.
I guess the one truth in my life is that—for better or worse—I feel bound to eternal exploration and flux. It can be hard to bear at times but it's the fuel that feeds the fire.
And I'm itching for a few gallons of kerosene.