Arrivals and Departures

I’ve waited way too long to begin this new site. I think I’ve owned the domain for a few years. Maybe three, four, I don’t recall. As a free lance photographer I mainly go by my name, Jeff McPheeters, and that’s where most people find me on Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Flickr, Smugmug, my own web gallery for clients at jeffmcpheeters.com.

Photography by Heart was sort of an idea in my mind because for me, photography as a craft is more than just the pieces that make up the craft: subjects, cameras, accessories, computers, software, prints, social media… it’s something that is part of who I am as a person who sees a world passing by and wants to preserve moments, whether for myself as mementos of places and scenes I want to remember or for particular clients or simply as a family man with a desire to have pictorial dots to connect the past to the present to the future.

©2019 by Jeffrey McPheeters

Today happens to be the day Olympus announced a new camera, or rather a new version of an existing model, the third iteration of the OM-D E-M1 designated Mark III. I expect to have one reasonably soon since I shoot the Mark II models which are now three and half years old and I can literally wear out a camera because I shoot so much and so often. I won’t even provide a link because you can easily find it and in a few weeks or months it will be old news since cameras are now computers that take pictures, much like our phones are computers that take pictures and, oh yeah, take and make calls and a million other things. The complexity is sometimes overwhelming and so I want to contribute what I can to simplify and distill for myself and the few readers who stumble through my writings what it is to make photographs by heart. To feel your way through like a cabinet maker feels the grain of the wood or a painter senses the feel of the canvas under wet paint.

I suppose it is inevitable that the old models must be replaced by new models. Here’s a bit of personal history for you if you don’t know my camera journey. My first camera was a Brownie my parents gave me when I was five or six. Then followed a Kodak Instamatic followed by an Olympus OM-1 in the early 70s, my first ‘real’ camera. When I graduated from college and began a career I purchased another model when I was in Japan in 1979, the OM-2n, along with additional lenses. These were sufficient for me until 2000, (that’s more than 20 years without an upgrade other than adding a small Olympus Pen to the kit and various point and shoot film cameras for my wife) when I obtained an Olympus C-3000 zoom 3.2 megapixel digital camera, my first digicam. The digital workflow caught me, hook, line and sinker.

My old system vs the 2012 OM-D E-M5

I began to look for something to replace the Olympus film cameras that had the quality I wanted for events and work related activities and in 2005 I obtained the first Canon Rebel, soon to be replaced with a Canon 20D, then 5D, 1DmkII, 1DmkIIn, you get the picture. And at this time I’m in my 50’s moving rapidly toward 60 (born in ’55 so you do the math). In the spring of 2012 I started reading about the OM-D E-M5 from Olympus with amazing weather sealing, small and compact, etc.,. and I wondered if this could be my future choice for travel, family, outdoor and nature system? It turned out the answer was a resounding YES! Once I began using one it was like I’d rediscovered the joy of photography all over again, and I wasn’t unhappy before!

Still, fast forwarding to today and the models I currently use, it’s not technically the improvements that keep me shooting Olympus mirrorless cameras. Certainly some newer features have made possible some photographs that would have taken much more effort to accomplish with cameras from eight years ago, but not impossible. No, the photograph for me has always been more than the pixels or grains of silver that made up the final print or image on the screen. What determines the amount of enjoyment any photograph can bring to me or to you is mostly subjective and what is objective is usually not 100% dependent upon the features most touted by the marketing department, or dissected by the YouTube vloggers, or the social media commenters.

If you’re still reading, I’m sorry for the long post to open this site. I promise there will be shorter posts more often than longer. Suffice it to say, whatever gear you prefer to use for photography, and no matter how familiar you are with the features that brought you to your favorite camera and accessories, if you are indeed a photographer who loves making photographs (it’s okay if you also are a gear head that loves the mechanics and intricate workings of your tools), then there’s something bigger than the sum of the parts that keeps you busily making more photographs.

For the sake of the photograph, and for the sake of our enjoyment in the craft, I want us to continue as photographers with heart so that we can make photographs by heart. A big part of what I will write about will be directed to how we can make our tools, whatever brand and model we choose, work better as collaborative tools, keeping us in control with less frustration and missed opportunities. I’ll also be writing about the part of photography that gets into workflow and managing the consequences of having practically ‘free film’ and ‘endless storage’ as well as philosophical and pragmatic challenges to what can easily weigh us down and discourage a perfectly good hobby, craft, or career.

If you are interested I’m interested in your comments.

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