While shopping the local camera store, I happened to overhear a teenage-looking customer inquiring about some gear. He wanted a certain type of lens, but was actively rueing the fact that the lenses his friends were using cost more than he was able to spend. He asked to see a lens he could afford, listened to the clerk tell him it wasn’t as good as the glass his friends were shooting, got discouraged, and ended up leaving the shop with nothing.
I must admit, the whole thing kind of bothered me.
It’s been a few days now, and I keep catching myself thinking back to that dejected-looking kid at the camera shop. I wish I had gotten his attention as he walked out the door. I wish I had asked him what camera he was shooting, what kind of subjects he likes to shoot, and if he had a Flickr account where I could check out his shots. I wish I had shown excitement that he was a new photographer, and told him to keep at it. I wish I had asked him to see his camera, and been impressed by the machine he’d have pulled from his bag- whatever camera that might’ve been.
But I didn’t do any of that. And that’s a real shame.
Thinking on it since then, it seems that there exists in photography an almost unhealthy preoccupation with names and numbers. Some folk look askance at all but a select few makes of camera, even though any camera would be rightfully regarded as pure sorcery to human beings from any other era than our own. Even so, to some shooters these incredible machines capable of capturing the photons of our universe just aren’t all that good, on account of their lacking a certain name, digit, or engraving.