One of the most rewarding parts of being part of the Camera West team is interfacing with some people who come through our doors, both at our physical stores and online, regularly. You get to learn what they need in their camera bag or what they don't need. I have found that over time you get to learn about their journey through their photography, and that connection of camera gear and one's path is something exciting that we all can learn. Introducing Conversing Cameras, a series we put on talking about camera gear, photography, inspiration, and more. Hopefully, this series gives you an inside look at this intersection of gear and life brings you a fresh look or a unique look at photography.
I am excited to share with you a good friend and regular face here at Camera West, Bobby George. Bobby and I have known each other since my very early days at camera west, and I've had the pleasure of selling him probably far too many cameras and lenses. Still, it has always been fascinating to follow Bobby's photography over the years. Without more to do about it let's talk a bit about photography with Bobby!
About Bobby George:
Q: Tell us about yourself.
A: Hello, I’m Bobby George. My background is in architecture, design, and philosophy. I like to consider myself an apprentice. I live in Canistota, South Dakota, overlooking a beautiful lake and state park just outside Sioux Falls, our state's Queen City. Our views are expansive, with wild prairie grass in the foreground and endless skylines in the background. It’s the perfect place to take pictures. I subscribe to Shunryu Suziki’s notion that, “In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the experts there are few.” In that vein, I’m still learning how to take pictures. I’m extremely pleased by the opportunity to share a few thoughts about my passion for photography.
Q: What first sparked your interest in photography and Cameras?
A: My interest in design, and the physical beauty of cameras, coincides with my discovering the joys of photography and taking pictures. I’d always found myself attracted to the sheer mechanical precision, craftsmanship, and industrial thoughtfulness, not to mention attention to detail, of Leica and Hasselblad. Holding one of these early beasts in my hands transformed the way I see. It was as if everything came alive in a completely new, novel and refreshing way. Time itself was made witness. One of my favorite quotes is from Lucian Freud, the British painter, who shared that imagination is the ability to see things as they actually are.
Q: What Interests you in photography?
Photography as storytelling, as a way not to capture something, but rather, to set it free, interested me immensely. Time and memory are familiar bedfellows and strange and wonderful things happen in-between. I’m also deeply intrigued by the fact that philosophy, save a few rare exceptions, has never taken photography very seriously. There’s so much gaiety to be embraced and enjoyed in the interests photography affords and demands.
Q: Do you like to shoot film or digital?
I’m caught, like so many others of our time, in the middle of film and digital. My camera bag tells the story. Hands down, I prefer the experience of shooting film. There’s absolutely nothing like it. It’s revelatory for me. A spiritual exercise. There are times, however, when I throw my hands up, as a manner of speaking, and find myself completely enamored by digital. I relish the instantaneity. It’s immediately digestible. Then, however, I find myself longing for a five course meal.
Q: Who is your favorite photographer?
I’d like to consider myself a student of photography. I’m still learning about my heroes. I wish I could walk around The Rive Gauche at sunrise with Henri-Cartier Bresson, join Robert Frank on his journey across America, peer inside the upstairs room of Vivian Maier as she took a selfie, or, further still, witness David Hockney has he shot and arranged his magnificent Polaroid collages. With that said, my favorite photographers are those I know the most, my compatriots in photographic conversations and life, those whom I embark on not-frequent-enough photo walks with: Connor Burtis and Brett Bittner.
Inklings of light are stirrings of life.
Q: Do you have any favorite quotes about photography?
A: “Time eventually positions most photographs, even the most amateurish, at the level of art.” - Susan Sontag What I adore most about this particular quote is the sentiment that photography lends itself to a democratic experience. Everyone can take pictures.
Q: Who are some of your favorite Instagram photographers:
Q What’s your favorite camera?
A: While I subscribe to the well known and rather unrehearsed adage that the best camera is the one with you, I must confess that my entire being comes alive with the early Leica cameras. The weight of time itself seemingly folds beneath the elation and lightness of seeing - as if for the very first time. There’s nothing like the click of the shutter and the noise the camera makes as you advance the film, as if caressing the future with one smooth and assertive motion.
Q: Tell us about your daily camera setup?
A: Given the above, and the dramatic response about altering my existence, you’d expect that I'd carry my Leica M2, permanently harnessed around my neck. I actually tend to carry my Leica SL2s and, of course, my iPhone is always nearby. I’m constantly torn between the readiness and responsiveness of immediately capturing the moment and the sheer pleasure and patience of waiting until the film develops - not knowing if the pictures turned out, if the conditions were right, if the film was exposed, etc.
Q: You’re heading on an adventure for a week and can only take one camera & one lens. What is it?
Well, let’s get the lens out of the way. That’s easy. I’ve become accustomed to only shooting 50mm. It’s just the way I see. I’m a huge fan of the Summilux. It’s what’s always on my camera(s). Actually, it’s the only lens I own for my rangefinders. Now, to the more difficult part of the question, the camera itself. If only afforded one option, are you sure there is only one option, I’d choose my Leica M2. I’d pack as much film as I could carry, and have complete trust and confidence that the camera would get out of the way, so time could flow through the lens.
Q: What next? Will you be adding anything new to your camera bag?
A: I love to experiment with cameras. Holding them, shooting them, enjoying their eccentricities. The convergence between the design of the camera and the experience of taking a picture is an ongoing dance that’s always teaching me new moves.