21 décembre 2017

Play Professional? Play for yourself!

Splash on the impact of your picture that's the only rule!

Ok lets start by avoiding an annoying debate with the DSLR fundamentalists around the Web. If you want really to get an approved by these old timer thinkers fully sold to DSLR (incorrectely called full frame but in fact already named small format during the 35mm film era) your only choice for a "real" professional camera are the Canon EOS 1DX or the Nikon D5 series. All the others choices are intended for amateurs, part-time paid photographers, passioned experts or collectors. In reality these two models have been designed in the first place for an intense use in adverse conditions and for the action and newspaper photography requirements. End of the line.

But wait! Because every photo device can produce image output that can be sold. Because it is the image which will ultimately be sold not your equipment. And photo editors will look at your pictures and not at your personal gadget bag. They want something that answer their needs for an image that got impact. So there is no place for this past stubbornness about DSLR that will prevent you to work with photo equipment that will suit your need and personality.

Late Associated Press photographer 
Henry Huet (Photo source: Wikipedia)
The late Henri Huet was a very fine Associated Press photo correspondent during the Vietnam war who lost his life in Laos in1971 along with others colleagues like Larry Burrought (Life magazine). The Associated Press replacement memo of Huet photo equipment has stated the lost of 2 Nikon F cameras, 3 Nikon lenses (35mm, 105mm, 200mm), a Leica M series body and a Leica 35m lens. All these equipment were at that time a compact kit using small film format (35mm/135). None of these products were all-wheather proof equipment although they were notorious for short term resistance. But Henri Huet manage to produce outstanding pictures that you can consult over the web and on various Vietnam war related publications and on Associated Press archives.

The Pro "Binôme" illustrated by two similar camera bodies of the same model couple
 with basic all-around purpose lenses.
For fast acting shooting two camera bodies with lens is often better that one sophisticated camera with three lenses because of the readiness of the material. Using same camera model is another advantage for fast and reliable access to your personal settings. Compatibility of accessories such as power pack batteries, external flashes, remotes, memory cards is another plus of using identical equipment. A different camera model or even another complete system can be interesting if you can afford a third option used in a more secure context. If you are working under specific mandates with short term contraints or for unique events you have to keep in mind to plan an "on the spot" back up possibility. Even in this digital age this basic rule is still standing.

The "apple" may fall from the tree!
Today you are seeing more and more "phone" crash pictures (and movie clips) over the news web sites or even in printed newspapers or on TV/Web diffusion channels. So what to conclude on the many experiences of the past photojournalism is mainly that every options are reliable for photographers. Be ready and be available to take and to transmit a picture are the success keys of photojournalism. At this point you need only to produce a picture that will fulfil their publishing standards (that can vary a lot depending of the situation and the availability of the image ressources).

If you want to act as a "professional" photo reporter the first rule is to get a picture whatsoever you are using to produce it. And this why many photo professionals are equipped with backup material (identical or not compare to their priorate photo device).

During my time as a paid photographer I have (as for my colleagues) experimented photo equipment failures even from the very best material like Leica M, Nikon F and Canon F-1 series. It was part of the game knowing that the camera manufacturers were not able to design a complete foolproof camera for every imaginable situations. And dont be mistaken because all those cameras were really very expensive at the time.

A "Pro" on assignation break!
These models are designed for more "abusive" work in 
adverse condition.
Today I am amazed by the durability of the present photo material. Although it won't survive to a three story crash for sure or a complete immersion into 200 feet water deep,  I have learn stories of various camera models that have been lost on the outside for months and been recuperated and still working! And there were not professional stamped models from their manufacturers. Having said that it is true that specific models are better suited for intense work in adverse conditions.

The DSLR fundamentalists of today-yesterday are became the strongest promoters of their photo material choice (True they are not alone because we see this in every consumer spheres of today). They are arguing that their equipment are the best (and the only one) that can fulfil the task of professional photography. Sorry for them but it never has been true because photography and its diffusion is so diversified that you cannot think a a general rule of choosing photo taking equipment that will suit every situations, every purposes and every publics.  It is simply like that.

Many photographers were looking and still look for a more compact camera alternative. This is why in the past small 35mm film format material have got so success in every way.  At the time they were strong quality limitations attached to that choice but it never prevent great photographers to produce outstanding pictures that have been published and printed up to the very fine image standards.  Now with the fantastic digital photography technical advancement you can use compact cameras that will offer you superb image output if you care to take carefully your pictures. And videographers are experimenting the same story. As I have already stated in an earlier post the equipment size factor is paramount to the photographer confort of doing his/her task. And as usual the technical aptitudes of compact cameras are still improving and need to do so in area like the continuous autofocusing functionality. But we have reach a first level of maturity that allows photography to rely on compact cameras for still (and video) photography. For sure you have to know the limits of the actual technology and stay creative with your photo taking techniques.

So what is available for photojournalism in compact cameras field? Every manufacturers will propose  us an interesting solution. With Fujifilm you will be directed to X-T (1 digit) and X-Pro models. Panasonic will offer you GH and G series more specifically. Olympus will present you its own OM-D E-M (1 digit) series. All those models are very capable digital cameras that can be combined with high class lenses especially designed. At the end what is the more important think is to play professional for yourself! (and to select your own combination).

And what about your mobile phone? It is maybe the best multifunctional communication device ever designed for photojournalism. It can act as a notebook, as an emergency and spontaneous camera, as a rapid connector between my pro camera and the web, as a storyline editor and sender, as a front line news front desk. Moreover it is an emergency camera that can deliver basic useful pictures (depending of the light conditions).

Photography is an evolutionary world and the choice of the past are different from the contents of today and it will be the same in the future. Nothing will be good for ever because world changes and we change. Be open to new tendencies and to new challenges is the beauty of the human search for a better world.

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