what I do

private right of way | 12/2017

I’ve been taking pictures for a little over forty years now — and yes, I take pictures. Snapshots. I don’t make photographs. I’ve gotten a pretty good idea of what I like and don’t like. What I want to do and don’t want to do. What I will do and won’t do. Mostly I’ve come to grips with what I need to do.

I’ve played with different kinds of equipment over the years. I experimented with 4×5 which I didn’t like. I did quite a bit with a 120 TLR which I did like and used for several years. Eventually 35mm became my main instrument. I took up digital some years back when I could no longer do my own darkroom work, first with a simple point and shoot, and later with a DSLR which I used up until about three years ago. I got tired of lugging it around and my pictures were beginning to feel stale so I gave it away. It ended up back in my hands again about a year ago, but it sits on the shelf with my old film cameras now, collecting layers of desert dust. These days I play strictly on my phone.

I don’t particularly like cameras. I get extremely impatient with equipment. But I do like taking pictures. It’s more than a like — it’s one of those things I need to do. My phone fits the bill perfectly for me. The fluidity, the spontaneity of so simple an instrument is freeing beyond measure. The image quality is more than adequate for my needs. I seldom print, and never big  — an 8×12 or 9×12 image on 11×14 paper is as big as I’m ever likely to print, and the quality of my phone shots is just fine for that size.

I’m more interested in, and exploring the possibilities of, putting my pictures into small books. I’ve tried making a couple as gifts for family and I like where that may lead. They’re more like printed hardcover portfolios, and I think that’s an ideal way to present those shots that I deem worthy of preserving. I’ve never cared much for framed prints on a wall. To me pulling a book off the shelf and spending some time with the pictures is a far more enriching experience.

In short, I can do anything I want to do at this point in my picture taking life with my phone. And best of all it fits in my pocket.


  1. Chris

    This is great, man. I can definitely relate. Especially the frustration with messing around with gear.

  2. pjfinn

    Thanks my friend. I always appreciate your thoughts. Not only do I despise lugging equipment around, I can’t even bring myself to read camera reviews. Gives me a headache…


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