As most of you know, photography is my thing. I've been into photography since fifth grade, so that adds up to over 50 years of making photographs. I agonize over what camera gear to bring more than any other packing decision I have to make.
In 2019, the last time we went to Paris, I brought just over nine pounds of photo gear...one DSLR and two film cameras along with four lenses. While I certainly didn't carry all that gear with me on the streets of Paris, I did have to schlep it there and back on the airplane. I'm cutting that weight in about half this time, only bringing my Nikon Z6 mirrorless digital camera and three lenses. That's right, no film cameras this time.
Since early 2019, I've been shooting film almost entirely for my personal work. I've been developing my own film at home, and as of this year, I've also been printing in my own darkroom. It's a fair question to ask why I'm not bringing film cameras to Paris this time. Well, here is my answer to that question. A large part of the enjoyment I get from shooting film is doing my own processing, scanning, and printing. I can't realistically do any of that when we're in Paris. Plus, with more cameras and formats comes more decisions. Which camera do I bring today? What film should I shoot today, black and white or color? Do I shoot digital or film today? While I enjoyed shooting film in Paris in 2019, it did come with a certain amount of handwringing. I plan to avoid that angst this time.
Case in point. When I happened upon the scene of the Notre Dame fire in 2019, the only dedicated camera I had with me was an Olympus film camera loaded with black and white film and fitted with a moderately wide angle 35mm lens. The only digital camera I had on me was my iPhone X. The images I captured that day that ended up in the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper were captured on my iPhone X. I didn't get my film back from processing for a number of days. I do wish I had taken my Nikon digital camera with me that day when I set out for a short walk down to the Seine before dinner. As it was, I ran out of film and my iPhone battery ran quite low, forcing me to ration my shots.
It's true that many of my favorite photographs from our 2019 trip to Paris were made on film. While I know that part of that is the unique way that film renders an image, I also know that in large measure it was due to the fact that when I was simply walking around with no special destination in mind, I took a film camera with me. Those images of everyday life in Paris are the ones that are most evocative for me. I'm hoping that those everyday scenes captured on my digital Nikon Z6 will be every bit as evocative. As readers of this blog, you will get to judge for yourselves.
9/13/2021 07:36:16 am
Interesting the see the choices you've made. Other than weight, the other thing I struggle with when travelling is safety. I don't want to carry 5+ pounds of gear everywhere I go, but it isn't safe to leave it in the hotel room. I'm not getting any younger/stronger, so I'm forced to pair back every time I go to France.
9/25/2021 12:09:03 pm
Thanks Mark. We are trying to travel light. Having a flat, we don’t worry so much about leaving things in our place.
9/13/2021 12:17:57 pm
Tom & Priscilla, I only wish Jerry were here to enjoy, appreciate and learn from your photographic experience. He would have loved it! Glad to be able to share this time with you via the blog...
9/25/2021 12:07:56 pm
Thanks Cathie! We’re glad you’re sharing the journey with us.
9/13/2021 04:09:19 pm
Which proves the old adage: the best camera is the one you have with you! Thanks for sharing this great post! Ann
9/25/2021 12:07:17 pm
Thanks Ann! Glad you’re traveling along with us virtually.
Barbara La Valleur
9/14/2021 10:53:53 am
As an international photojournalist of 55 years, I feel your angst about camera and lens selection. You're doing the right thing. The fewer the better. In fact, sometimes I only have my iPhone - always the latest version thanks to the plan I'm on - which has an astoundingly great sent of lenses. It sure beats my old heavy leather camera bag with two Nikon bodies and 4-5 Nikkor lenses. Enjoy!
9/25/2021 12:06:48 pm
Thanks Barbara! So far my choices are working out well.
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