Ideas, Clutter & Occam’s Razor
Or the trappings of an old photographer & Lessons learned . . . RANT Warning
Let’s take a look at some of the trappings first . . . take the Mamiya RB67 kit in the below photograph.
In a special “suitcase” . . . yes suitcase sized bag in the closet sits a wonderful medium format manual camera and complement of lenses, backs and various attachments . . . it is an analog camera. The photos produced by this camera are far beyond the quality of the average digital consumer cameras on the market today. This setup which cost a great deal not to many years ago is now deemed obsolete to a great degree. Now for the most part it is just Clutter and gathers dust. I look about and this is not the only system I have that is gathering dust. I admit it, I am a hoarder of sorts, I suffer from G.A.S. (gear acquisition syndrome), as well as being old school and old as well . . . because I appreciate and admire the workmanship, fine details, complexity of such equipment. I admit it, I Love Old Cameras!!! and using them . . . at the same time I am becoming tired of the clutter . . . There is a lesson in this. Enter variable number one of Occam’s Razor as it relates to the amount of equipment needed.
My wife is of the minimalist ideology and bless her she puts up with my clutter(s) . . . I put pluralize clutter because I have a knack that where ever there is a flat empty surface I will eventually fill it up with “MY” stuff “clutter“, it is inevitable that I will eventually make that empty space occupied. I think I can contribute that to twenty years of doing without while in the Navy living aboard a ship of one sort or another and making do with a space for my personal possessions no bigger then a foot locker and a locker the size of a small kitchen Cabinet . . . No you may not criticize my desk, garage or my side of the room!!! Yes I have a cluttered desk, camera room and . . . and . . . and . . . and the list goes on . . . . Enter variable number two of Occam’s Razor as it relates to the space I occupy and its relation to how I fill it up.
It is in this chaos and clutter that my ideas form and come to fruition, I explain away the clutter, the seeming disarray and jumble of my space as needed. I liken each piece of equipment, scrap of paper, open book, magazine and sticky note, bottle cap, pencil, feather and other sundry bits looking for all its worth like some beach after a storm covered with the jetsam and flotsam of my life, my ideas, my thoughts. All paused waiting for me to finish each of them, and I will, I promise . . . just let me finish this thought I have right now. I need this chaos, this seeming jumble of thoughts as this is how I work best, how my creative soul talks and communes with my muse. I build each idea, each thought and pull from the bits of flotsam that surround me . . . driven fanatically but not in real time . . . it may take days to evolve or it may spark and take but a moment to resolve itself and be finished . . . Enter variable number three of Occam’s Razor as it relates to the Ideas and how my thought process works.
And now . . . how do I relate this to my photography, how do I distill this process down to the minimalist concept . . . after all isn’t all that gear just that? clutter, in the way of me fulfilling my ideas? the call of my muse? Is my nature so ingrained I cannot function without the flotsam . Can I bring myself to accept the premise of Occam’s Razor and pare down my tools, clear my jetsam so that I can create without all this getting in my way. As I write my inner self is already crying out a resounding NO . . . and my id wants to clutch greedily at my possessions . . . don’t I always promote the premise of “use what ya got, it is not the gear but you the photographer that makes the picture” . . . I struggle with these things, and I know them to be true, yet my hands grip tighter the gear and the dust.
Lately I have been looking at the smaller full frame mirror-less cameras. They have such potential now, I feel drawn to them, to cast off the weight of the old systems and embrace this new way of thinking . . . Fuji’s X system is close to capturing my heart (wallet) . . . after all it isn’t the camera (gear) right! The system is so light, so versatile . . . I struggle to not just add one more piece of gear! I know deep down in my heart, that if I clear the table, quit the excuses for the NEED, I will free myself to be more creative . . . but until I can embrace the premise of Occam’s Razor . . . “The principle states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may ultimately prove correct, but—in the absence of certainty—the fewer assumptions that are made, the better.” so let me write the premise this way “The principle states that among competing bits of gear, the system with the least amount of gear is better. . . Other, more complicated systems may ultimately prove more efficient, but also is in the way — in the jumble of gear choices — the fewer the parts that are available, the easier it is to be creative.” I hope I made my point without being to convoluted . . . simply put I need to DE-clutter my life, . . . get the gear out of the way of creativity.
Does this mean I no longer want to shoot film? no. What about my 4×5 Large Format camera? no. Give up my Nikon system? no. But, I do need to think about moderation, and pare down my gear and curb my gear lust if possible. As for how my idea process works, I need to better my habits, tidy up after myself and accept a philosophy of “if it has set so long it has dust on it! perhaps it needs to be put away because it wasn’t meant to be. Man this is gonna hurt! . . . LOL, now if I can only practice what I preach, I know my wife would be happy. Maybe by putting this in writing I will move forward and closer to that DE-cluttered life, simplistic open and serene . . . Hey, common . . . I can imagine it! Loosening grip . . . must try . . .
Hey . . . it is just a theory “an idea that is suggested or presented as possibly true but that is not known or proven to be true” and leads us to one thing . . . simplify life and you make life more enjoyable. Agree or Disagree it is up to you, like anything to much of anything can be harmful, but, mind you . . . this doesn’t apply to my coffee, one can never have too much coffee!
Oh one last thing, about that lesson learned, yes, with all those trappings, G.A.S, and clutter, I learned that the camera you have at the moment you snap the shutter is the best camera, best lens, best tripod . . . you don’t need the next best, newest, most expensive . . . . it’s just a tool, a means of capturing, creating the idea or what ever is in your eye at the time. let me say it one last time . . . it’s just a tool, if it’s in your hand it’s the right one.
I’m outta here, get off your duff and go make some pictures . . . Digi . . . (aka) Tim