Thank you for taking the time to visit my site, I hope you enjoy it.
My intent with this blog will be to discuss the pure joy of photography, how some of the images were captured, tips, locations, planning for that shoot, gear appreciation, stories, philosophical musings and any other useful tips I may have. I won’t state how regular it will be, but I will try to keep it interesting.
First a little bit about me (in case you hadn't already read!). I started working in a professional camera store as my first job at the age of 14. I have worked for Kodak, Fuji, Canon, one of the biggest professional camera stores in Australia and one of the biggest Photographic retail chains in the world, the now defunct Jessops based in the UK!
Of course there has been a significant amount of change over the last 27 years, but most of you know the story of film and its demise at the hands of the behemoth that is the digital format. But it is not just the change from film to digital, where we buy our cameras from has changed too. There used to be so many specialist stores to buy from and find out about photography and it provided access to some extremely knowledgeable people, who ultimately lived and breathed photography themselves. I do speak from experience after all, I was one of them.
Today, it is so easy to buy a camera whether online or through the alarming number of generic retail outlets that now sell cameras. Our access to knowledge and learning the craft is so much easier too; our online sources have built a strong community network which I have found to be an invaluable way of connecting from my extremely remote NW Australian hometown. Do I think the photography industry & profession is better or worse? Well, I believe the answer to that is yes.....with some reservations!
My reservations are around the traditional photography stores that have drastically declined in number and were once the bastion of all things photography. Now we inadvertently seek knowledge from online sources that can mean we often just walk (or shop online) with price and availability our only consideration. So when it comes to finding out about photography and trying to learn, is this the path we should seek?... well that is easy….do it online because your computer won’t mind providing that information for 12 hours straight if that is what you wanted!!….and I can hear those that work in photo sales departments sighing in agreement….so much fun educating people when you are supposed to be making sales!
But, at a professional or specialist camera store you get to look, feel and play with the latest gear and you know what? I want to be swayed by the salespeople whispering “this camera needs you” as they try to disarm your defenses against making purchases. After all, I have just asked them to provide 2 hours of education free of charge while playing with the camera ….and no that is not how they operate!
The professional store can provide training options/ full solutions for every type of photography, a network of resources that would be so much easier to draw on rather than scouring the net for info and some even have gallery space for you to hold exhibitions! They offer so much more than just a place to buy equipment.
It’s not to say avoid the online resources as they can be extremely useful too. But when you visit a store the other senses built within us come ‘alive’ and the human interaction provides much needed nourishment to our mindset…I’m sure you’ve all read the huge benefits of long periods uninterrupted screen time…NOT!
I remember having customers who would regularly visit the store I worked in just to catch up, chew the fat over our ‘phavourite’ topic and even the occasional coffee would be consumed. I now find myself in that position, when I do get the chance to visit the big smoke I always try to catch up with some old friends in these professional stores. I’m respectful they have other priorities, but I feel our relationship is made stronger that when I need something a little more exotic or loan of equipment I’m often given the royal treatment…and I really don’t think you can obtain that by buying online from an outlet that you cannot visit. Remember these pro/specialist stores have evolved too and offer an online option.
So my message here is simple, get out and support your local professional or specialist store, have a look and play with the latest gear and get to know the people behind the business. It is their mission to know more about photography than you, so they can be that knowledge base you seek. It doesn’t mean we should give up the online option, it just means that when you establish a good relationship with a bricks and mortar store, if/ or when you have a special request or are faced with an issue that needs a human to resolve quickly, they will shine much brighter than most online experiences.
*I am not affiliated or paid by/ with any brands, stores or resellers. This is a blog representing my opinion only.
Mat Beetson - 2019 AIPP Western Australian Professional Nature Photographer of the Year!