Dear Benice

I love engaging with the film community on the various social media sites, but increasingly these past havens are stressing me out. The reason? CameraPorn. Sexy shots of hot bodies and luscious lenses making my old kit look sad and tired by comparison

Being confronted by those gorgeous cameras leaves me with a deep feeling of gear inadequacy and a strong desire to remortgage the house so I too can be part of this GAS cloud.

Please Help!

Yours faithfully

Nubb Hocksley,
Wagga Wagga, Australia

Dear Nubb,

Thank you for your letter, I’m sorry to hear you’re getting yourself in a state over this, rather than something more important, like whether or not Snickers bars are smaller than they used to be, or if Bees have names.

I heard the expression “conspicuous consumerism” the other day. I thought it meant the people who go down the shops in dressing gowns and slippers, but apparently, it’s all about how much people like to show off how good they are at spending money. As the saying goes, if a Bear sh1ts in the woods, how will anyone know if he doesn’t share a Story on Instagram?

Cameraporn has given us a neat loop of tedious pictures being salivated over by tedious people. It doesn’t matter how artfully you’ve lit your Leica, it’s the photographic snake eating its own tail, an Ouroboros of awful born from the widely held belief that the barrier to creative genius can be smashed to bits by firing large wads of money at it.

Still, what should you do when you get hot under the collar over a feed full of sexy SLR’s and racy Rangefinders? Should you just jump on eBay, ride the new kit endorphin rush? Treat yourself to something a bit special at the expense of a family holiday, your child’s college fund or Grandma’s medical bills?

Picture the feeling of happiness when you open the package and pull out your shiny new toy, the thrill of exploring it’s mechanical beauty, the moment of elation and belonging when you post a picture of it for the adoration of others…followed by the inevitable reply from someone saying, “Nice camera, I used to love my X, until I got a Y, then the images from the X looked so bad to me it literally made me weep blood. A great starter for you though.”

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You throw that camera in the bin like the second rate piece of junk it clearly is and start looking for the next hit, and a buyer for your kidney or your least favourite child.

Don’t fall into the trap of succumbing to temptation and peer pressure because there will always be some Billy Big-Bollocks out there with a bigger, better, faster, cooler whatever-it-is than the thing you just wasted your money on, and he’s just dying to let you know about it.

The first step to freeing yourself from camera lust is figuring out why these pictures are causing such a stirring in your loins in the first place.

Is it the alluring lines of the camera? Are you picturing how cool you’ll look with it slung round your neck as you walk the streets? Will this one object complete you as a human? Or maybe you’ve put more effort into your self-justification – it’s a format/style/frame size/colour you don’t already have and you feel sure that this acquisition will open up new creative pathways for you.

Whatever the reason, you need to realise you’re already perfect just the way you are, and the pictures you’re making with the kit you have are brilliant!  …Or you aren’t and neither are they, but the thing is that no amount of new gear isn’t going to make any bloody difference. As my Papa would often say, you can dress a Pig in a pretty silk dress, but no amount of explaining will make it understand the offside rule.

Take it from me, the frustrating thing about brilliance and talent is that it’s innate, and no matter how much you hit and yell at people to be better, or how much they spend on gear, they’ll just never get it. Just look at those poor bastards shooting digital, trapped in an eternal cycle of obsolescence and upgrading, their worth as a photographer intrinsically tied to an object with a single-year shelf life. No wonder they get so bent out of shape by people still using 50 year-old kit.

Film photographers are a notorious bunch of hoarders with the self-restraint of a magpie in an eyeball factory. As the laws of time and space make it physically impossible for most of these silver-halide Smaugs to take pictures with even a fraction of the cameras they own, the inevitable next best thing is to take pictures of them. When you see camera porn, don’t give in to desire for that beautiful, eager body, or envy for all the exciting things it could do for you do that your old model can’t or won’t anymore. Just grab your old faithful, slip in a roll of film and shoot your fill at a favourite spot.

Or just stick on some proper porn and have a wank. Either way, you’ll soon lose all interest in pictures of cameras.

Yours GAS-free since ’63,

~ Nana

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Avatar - Benice Shofil

Benice Shofil

It's Benice, not Bernice. Let's get that straight. I was born in was known as Czechoslovakia in June 1932. My parents were immigrants who named me after the area of Prague where they first met. I studied in both Prague and Leipzig, and spent 50 years working...

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