A camera like Ricoh GR and XVario has a form that promotes street photography. I have been trying out various other cameras but i have never been motivated to capture images and be surprised by the results as i did with these cameras.
Why? I believe it boils down to something so simple and raw, its practically the trigger for motivation. It begins with “Form”
1. Size matters
You can shout and chant the whole day and read magnum contact books and dead photographer’s portfolios. But if you gonna hold a 70-200 zoom lens on your dlsr and walk up the street and shoot, you not going to succeed. Size matters. Holding on something big, is not going to give you the speed and flexibility to move right into a scene and shoot it. Street photography is about people and expression where you are almost at the same place, witnessing and participating. I love zoom shooting in mall photography, something i did as a kind of street photography when i am just too tired or motivated to walk outside. I get nice photos but nothing that i am really happy with.
If you gonna carry a 50-500 lens, you are better off joining the Olympics than doing street photography. The anticipation in street is not just one direction, it could be behind you or on your side, and to shoot discreetly and yet breath in the scene, size affects mobility and mobility affects results.
A camera that is of the correct size grants the bearer such joy, that its hard to describe. When news of friends and people moving away from DSLR to 4/3, Fuji’s and whatever else out there, i initially thought that its just a rush decision. Make no mistake about it, liberty and freedom is a feeling that many associate as criterias for happiness and when your camera gives you event a taste of that, its hard not to understand why they did it.
2. Camera Quality matters
Motivation begins when you feel inspired by something or a thought that you hold in your mind. Holding a lego camera, will not get you motivated unless your motivation is pre-planning to fail and yet not feel bad since you got a bad deal to begin with. Lets face it, carrying a plastic camera that feels like toys, does not contribute a single motivating trigger to you anymore than a B rated movie gonna get you high expectation. Expectation however matters. A camera that is build nicely, triggers all kinds of good thoughts and inspirational feeling when you carry it.
When i first had my M9, despite the reality that its a camera that is kinda “stupid” with all kinds of limitations, i did produce some photos that i am very happy with. Logically any camera today with a fast lens could easily out gun any Leica M shooters if the photographers are on the same level. Auto focus is just too stupid to be ignored. After i sold my M9, i got all kinds of cameras. They all could in theory, capture much better photos in various lighting conditions. I did have many keepers no doubt, but the joy of holding the camera just isn’t the same. M9 felt stupid due to the technological limitations and rangefinder, but the build and touch of the camera, inspires one to go out and shoot. I know one day, Leica will produce one that you won’t feel stupid and at the same time highly inspired by the build quality.
Partially this condition is met in the Xvario. The camera immediately brings back the feeling i had with the M9 and minimizes on the stupidity part. The only “stupid” part i felt was the slow lens but given that i wanted to train on deep dof, this counters the thought. The Xvario, to me, is the real Digital Leica. Its far from perfect, a perfect one would be 24-70 mm 1.4 on a FF Leica but at the current situation, that is crazy thinking 😉
3. Inspiration matters
It begins when you hold the camera, up to the point when you shoot it. My nikon D4 performs flawlessly and was iron clad dependable. Inspired, hardly, but it does removes me from distraction of limitations since if D4 cant’ perform, its entirely the photographers fault . Ricoh GR is so light, u feel immediately like moving around and shoot. Xario feels so solid, you feel that every moment is special. D4, tells you, go do your job. Its not a bad thing if you are a full time photographer on duty, but for your own passion based projects , inspiration goes a long way.
No article should be complete without a photo to prove my point right? I have been fetching my daughter for more than 4 years to the school. I have used all kind of cameras trying to capture something i like, her silliness and laziness when waking up from the car, or just some expression. I got that with the Xvario.