Always Carrying a Camera

Photo courtesy LIFE magazine


I want to be the type of person who always brings a camera along. You know the ones, dedicated to their craft even when it’s inconvenient or unnecessary. I read about people like that and think, “That should be me.” So I try. I leave an old Canonet in the car. When the weather calls for a jacket I stuff an Olympus Stylus Epic in the pocket. If I’m going somewhere I think might be photogenic I bring a “good” camera. I even choose cameras like the Olympus OM or Leica M because they are small and quiet and convenient to carry. So you see, I’m almost one of those people. The next step is to actually use the camera I have with me.

I love taking photographs, but I don’t have what you’d call a strong artistic vision. (Wouldn’t that be nice?) Lacking the appropriate creative drive, I just sort of fumble around with unclear ideas and hope something shows up. I spend a lot of time not taking pictures. Not ideal, but that’s where we are.

Buying and selling a lot of cameras helps. Not because I think they’ll make me a better photographer, but because new cameras trick me into carrying them, and into taking more photographs. And that will make me a better photographer.

So when I’m looking all nerdy with a Leica or whatever around my neck in the grocery store, remember, that’s me – trying.

Olympus OM – 1 and 2

Leica M7 and Olympus OM-2n

A few months ago I picked up a bag full of beat up Olympus cameras and lenses from a guy on Craigslist. (See”>this post.) I was told that the OM-2n was not repairable, but I continued to use the OM-1n and have become very fond of it. I like it so much I bought a working OM-2n to go with it – and it’s beautiful. I chose the 2n for its automatic exposure option and the ability, to use its off-the-film metered TTL flash.

The above photo shows the OM-2n (with an 85mm f2) next to my black Leica M7. The Olympus looks smaller, because it is. That surprised me too. It also costs about 10 times less. It may be just the novelty, but I’ve been grabbing the OMs on the way out the door more often than the Leicas. This little discovery could end up saving me a lot of money.

To see what an OM can do in capable hands, take a look at“>Jane Bown’s work. Good stuff.