Today’s product spotlight is firmly fixed on the exquisitely crafted hot shoe covers and shutter release buttons made by Jay Tsujimura. Based in Japan, Jay meticulously carves, shapes, and polishes tiny camera accessories in a variety of precious metals, creating heirlooms and good luck charms for photo geeks.
We first caught a glimpse of these miniature, metal marvels by way of Jay’s Instagram account, and ever since we’ve been following him closely. It’s been a lot of fun peering over the shoulder of the artist as he photographs the design and production processes that go into making his unique camera jewelry.
We were impressed with the idea of a long-lived, intrinsically valuable, and beautiful shutter release button, so we got in touch with Jay, ordered one, and have been using it for a while now.
Here’s what we think.
Once the order was placed, Jay advised a lead time of three weeks, since each piece is made by hand. Our package from Japan arrived in just eight days. Impressive.
In it we received the shutter release button, a velvet pouch, a business card, and two postcards (one of which featured a lovely note from the man himself). We pulled the dense, silver button from the packaging and installed it on the nearest camera.
Practically speaking, there’s not much to parse with Jay’s products. They’re beautiful, made of solid metal, and will last forever. They have intrinsic value being made of precious metals (silver, gold, platinum), come in a massive variety of designs, and are clearly made with passion.
Yep. Trying to rationally review Jay’s products is an exercise in irrelevance. The hot shoe covers fit universally into all hot shoes, and the shutter release buttons thread into every standard shutter release socket (Fujifilm X Series, Leica M, Canon, Nikon, Minolta… etc.). Functionally speaking, they do what they’re supposed to do, and that’s that.
Whether or not a person will want one isn’t the sum of a rational decision, rather it’s the result an emotional impulse. People want a product like this because it makes them feel something.
A visit to Jay’s site shows that he understands the emotional element of his work. In fact, the whole ethos of his work seems to stem from a desire to spread joy and happiness. He writes of his desire to create products that become good luck charms, and products that will encourage the user to achieve their dreams.
This is certainly among the most idealogical approaches to camera gear we’ve ever encountered. And while some cynics may recoil, we’re ready to embrace the idea. Photography, for us, is a beautiful pursuit; it’s a pursuit that’s full of wonder, enlightenment, and growth. Looking at things from this perspective, it doesn’t seem so silly to want a good luck charm attached to your favorite camera.
And this is where Jay’s products become something more than just a hot shoe cover or shutter release button. For those who are open to the idea, they have deeper meaning. Anchors remind us of where we come from, keep us secure and steady; doves remind us to pursue peace and love; cherry blossoms symbolize beauty and life.
If I may speak personally for a moment, I’ve worked with metal in motorcycle restoration and modification, and I know how difficult it can be. I know the incredible level of artistry that goes into something like this.
Perhaps it’s this knowledge that helps me find value in Jay’s work. Or perhaps it’s the symbolism of the anchor, which reminds me of a time in my life when sailing on the Charles River was an escape from unbearable stress. Or maybe it reminds me that photography has always been a steadying force, even when the most deeply important aspects of my life were beyond my control.
Personal reveries aside, we know that not everyone will equate a shutter release button with a moment in time or a memory that they don’t want to lose. To know if his designs will speak to you, spend some time poking around Jay’s shop.
But what about the price? There’s no denying that Jay’s art is pricey. The anchor button made of silver that we used for our review costs $150. Not cheap, by any means, and it’s this high price point that will likely be the factor that drives away many would-be buyers. This is a shame, but it’s the truth. While Jay’s work is the work of a true artist, it may simply cost more than many people will be willing to pay for a hot shoe cover or shutter release button.
But remember, Jay’s work is genuine artwork of the highest order. These are pieces made with incredible skill and a perfectly balanced eye for proportion, design, and style.
Also remember that the pieces are made of precious metals, carved by hand, triple-polished, and extremely unique. If you have a camera that you treasure above all others, personalizing it with a meaningful trinket doesn’t seem so ridiculous. And if you intend to keep that camera for the rest of your life, the expense spread over a lifetime of use doesn’t seem quite so great.
Whether or not these camera accessories are worth the high price is ultimately up to the individual. Speaking objectively to the products’ quality, design, and uniqueness, Jay’s work is nothing short of exceptional. And speaking to the products’ intangible qualities as meaningful jewelry, they’re objects to be treasured.