I follow a lot of Japanese photographers on Twitter and recently some of them have been tweeting about how they see so many people photographing the blossom each year and that there must be such a saturation of blossom or ‘hanami’ images that there is no point in taking more.
This got me thinking, the word ‘hanami’, if I understand correctly, refers to the viewing and enjoyment of the blossom rather than to the flowers themselves and it seems to me that with the Japanese in particular, making photographs of the blossom is part of their enjoyment. I then wondered if it is in the act of taking the photographs or in the end image that the pleasure is found.
While digital photography attempts to combine these two parts of photography; you take the image and you can look at it straight away, film photography, by it’s nature, splits apart the taking and the viewing. What many professional photographers see as hindrance, I think, appeals to those who take photographs for pleasure. By splitting the act you increase the amount of pleasure you get from photography. If you develop and print yourself then you maybe even have 3 ‘pleasure events’, the taking, the developing and the printing of the final image.
I was further prompted to think about this subject, or at least a very similar one, when Ukranian street and documentary photographer Alina Kisina gave a talk about her work last week. While discussing truth and honesty within images, Alina told us that equipment is not important to her. She acknowledged that her camera was nothing fancy and talked about how she likes to work with the mistakes that she finds in her photographs.
I tried to relate this to my own practice and while I have gone from using top of the range Nikon digital and film equipment to now shooting with a digital rangefinder with less resolution than most phones and what amounts to little more than point and shoot film camera, the equipment is still important to me. I own the cameras I own because I enjoy them. A large part of the enjoyment I get from my cameras is in how they function - the film advance lever, which cocks the shutter on my digital R-D1, or the silent mode on my Hexar for example. I suppose this is part of the performative pleasure of photography.