[Big Decisions] The Jump: in times of virus
Several of us can relate to what it is like to make a big life changing jump. Yes, I am talking about marriage, family, and happy living for the rest of our days. I am talking about tying the knot! jumping the broom! The honeymoon and positively pushing the limits of our love, in some cases.
The reality is, we do our best to pick well for a life long love but… then we see another, and the butterflies of investing in our first “Really Big Deal” camera system, that old feeling, comes back! When that “Love Jones” hits you it’s like a big “Woooooosh!” You clutch your purse strings or hand them to a more responsible party. Then you begin to rationalize. You start thinking about your current situation: Sensor size is too small; It’s too heavy; It’s too big; It’s too small; It’s too light; It’s old; Not worth investing for more lenses or gadgets. I don’t have the right subjects… oh wait, that doesn’t count. But seriously, the problem with my current system is… [insert the summary of lame grievances here]. Do not scoff, this catchall is meant to collect the cadre of small reasons to acquire something else for continuing our journey. This is very important. Let us cut to the chase by putting it bluntly, you and I have suddenly exhausted the art that we can possibly make with that old bag that we still love dearly.
Do we ever really let go over the first love? My very first frog-like jump was a Pentax K1000. My second, a Minolta XGA, then Kodak P60 was my first digital jump. I tried the Sony NEX5 briefly and then invested in the Sony NEX7 and then my wife says: “That’s such a tiny little system” how does a man even hold a system that small. Hindsight, if I only knew that mirrorless would take off. I had the “best Sony lens ever created” on my NEX7! I still enjoy those wonderful images that I was shooting on program and auto modes, as I was learning my way through digital, and then it hit. I can’t fit enough into my frame because I don’t have a full size 35mm-equivalent sensor. Clearly, I can no longer make the art I am meant to make now that I am shooting ARW (sony raw) AND MANUAL!
I traded in everything! I was devastated. The heartless B&H representative glowered at me… well at least that’s how it felt. I was in shock and numb from the divorce. It left me empty and blind for weeks. I could only afford the Sony A99 body. I struggled, desperately needing to create. Then I found an old Minolta beer-can and a 50mm crop-sensor lens to hold me over until I could save up with my adjunct teaching and tutoring monies, not my day job, to get some “REAL” glass (see what’s currently in my bag below).
My most recent big jump was to actually get a medium format camera! I have had my eyes and dreams on a Hasselblad or Leica medium format system. I love to see a nicely appointed Mymia (Mamiya) too. But then I really ‘got to thinkin’ and I say to myself: “Self, vintage art deserves vintage equipment”… or something to that effect. This thinking led me to the beautiful Nikon F2 that has been wildly productive and now, the twin lens rollie-style Yashica MAT24G. Composition and perspective are completely different for me and challenging. The art I am making is somehow growing and shrinking at the same time, a topic I shall return to in a future article, God willing. All reasoning aside, I had a reverse buyer’s remorse. It is a thing. A reverse buyer’s remorse is when you do not purchase something and are remorseful, especially if it is no longer available, when you give in to the agony of not having whatever it is you are now coveting.
I will now share with you the “real” story of the acquisition after caving in to the agony. While visiting family in Southern California, during a relaxed COVID19 travel ban, my wife agreed to take me to Davis Camera in San Bernardino. I saw my Yashica there and my responsible wife talked me off the ledge, citing the obvious expense of the trip and then she tightened the purse strings for us. Agony, I know right. However, fortune favored the astute! After I figured my way through the finances and booked a paying photoshoot, I was confident enough to make the pitch to my wife and the leap. My wife and I had a mild disagreement and she had to work virtually, so she actually never heard me communicating, how effectively, we could ‘actually’ afford this jump [insert eye-rolls, smdh, etc]. A brother of mine named Jalani Bakari (Yeah, that guy) came to rescue me from the Air-BnB in Riverside, California and also gave me a lift to Davis Camera.
Without the Mrs to talk me off the ledge, I jumped to medium format and also a significant cost per image hike that I did not foresee in my lust. But, I am still committed. At least until I exhaust the art I can make with that system. My wife and I put our extremely mild disagreement behind us. We remain committed as well, back in Yonkers, by the Hudson Riverside, in New York.
All photography by Terrance Hamilton