Monday, August 18, 2014

Scary Steps

I belligerently dropped quite a bit of coin last night. Despite planning on this upgrade path for months now, it's always terrifying to buy into something new, especially with years of familiarity under one's belt. The Olympus OMD E-M1, paired with the M. Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 lens, the HLD-7 vertical grip with an extra BLN-1 battery to occupy it, and the FL-600R flash unit. Almost as if, in one fell swoop, I replaced everything I've been using in my practice of photography up to this point. And it's scaring the hell out of me.

A fellow shutterbug and I mused on the source of this seemingly unnatural fear of the new. Most photographers are thrilled to acquire a new piece of kit, so it simply didn't seem right that I would be so apprehensive about it. After some introspective rumination, however, I'm pretty well decided on my rationale being a fear of expectation. I've spent years, over a decade now, making the best of consumer cameras paired with competent prime glass, making the absolute most of their potential until I was flattened against the glass ceiling those units inherently carry. The acquisition of the E-M1, a "pro" grade camera body, and the 12-40mm f/2.8, a "pro" grade lens, and even the FL-600R (which may not be flagged as "pro" but any flash with TTL metering stands well and above the full manual assortment I've otherwise used), represents an abandonment of that glass ceiling.

While operating within the limits of the Micro Four Thirds sensor may represent a ceiling of its own that I'm sure I will hit, operating with a "pro" grade camera instills me with a dread that I have fewer excuses for my screw ups in the future. And more abstract, the very form of this camera impresses upon others the expectation that "Yes, this man is a competent photographer". While using PEN cameras and my old GF1, I've always had a sort of novelty about me, wherein I was not immediately recognized as a photographer, perhaps a tourist, or a cheeky kid who likes taking pictures for money sometimes. I'll have no such "out" in utilizing the E-M1. Large and domineering (for an MFT camera) with the vertical grip attached, there will be no mistake what I am there to do, what I exist to do. So strange, for years wanting to be recognized as A Photographer, and now the deliberate label terrifies me. I am afraid to be recognized.

While I await the delivery of this new bit of kit, I will be working on reviews of the assortment of primes that have defined my career and my aesthetic up to this point. I'm sure I will still use them, but while I am in an emotionally jarred, melodramatic state of mind I will be writing them with a bittersweet fondness as if they are dying stars collapsing into universal entropy. Transition is hard.