The year 2016 was photographically very active for me because I had blog project ('Days of Zeiss') and it kept me quite busy throughout the whole year. It was great because I was able to ride the waves of activity, but after that year I stopped a bit to inhale and after a couple of months I was finally ready to listen that small voice which I had kept beneath the whole year. First I couldn't really make sense of it as it was so silent, but after listening it for some time I could hear that it was some sort of a question related to my photography.
So, I started to question my approach to photography. I had learned a lot about my tools, even dived into them, but did I learn as much about photography? Don't get me wrong, I had taken a lot of pictures, many of them very important to me, but concentrating too much on the tools I had in some ways forgot the initial idea why I got started with photography and what I wanted to achieve. Sure, I was looking for 'great shots' like everyone else, but was I really photographing the right things and the right moments? My photography was about good light, great contrast & colors, professional grading, 'the Zeiss look', etc., but after having a honest dialogue with my inner voice, I knew I had somehow taken a wrong path.
I feel that concentrating too much on tools like lenses and camera bodies one disconnects himself from the real photography. Today every enthusiast seems to seeking for great lens rendering and many of them use lot of time and effort to learn lenses inside out (I know because I've followed the road and I can tell overcorrected from the under corrected lens, etc.). It can be a fascinating world of aesthetic differences and science behind them, but as refined and sophisticated it sounds many are just hiding their insecurities. The truth is that visual styles or photographic identities are rarely created by choosing some particular tools or products you can buy from the camera store. In fact, I think it's easy to separate amateur from a real photographer; amateur speaks about tools and how great they are while real photographers often contemplate more about emotions, relationships and other things that guide their work. I feel that many get stuck in the process of learning their tools because after they have got something they are already chasing for something better never getting into the real process of photographic development. And don't get me wrong, I am as much as amateur as everyone else – this blog, about Batis 2/40 CF, kind of proofs it.
The thing is, one doesn't need ZEISS lenses to make great photography. In fact, not even premium lenses are required for making pictures that touch emotionally. If you have the vision, can connect with your subject and understand it deeply, you can take that understanding and turn it into photographs that will touch people, for example by introducing an interesting approach to subject. Sure the lenses might be great and inspiring, I'm not denying that, but when you have enough lenses the high performance becomes everyday standard, even mundane (been there, done that). And eventually you will have to face the real questions that relate to your photography. I believe this is what happened to me when I ended my yearlong blog project with that crown jewel setup of ZEISS lenses and all. Having chased 'the ZEISS look' for more than a year it eventually collapsed when I reached it and I had to face the question that had been so quiet and indiscernible for all that time: why do I shoot the things that I shoot and am I shooting the right things?
Ps. Had a small accident today as you can see from the picture. I was climbing up the station stairs with my ZEISS-case when it accidentally got open and all lenses fell on the stairs. A bit frustrating incident really as I had to pick them up one by one with my bare hands. Luckily only a few lens caps got missing and maybe a one Loxia, but I got the rest of them together and managed to continue without messing up more. Always make sure your lens case is tightly sealed!