“The Camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” – Dorothea Lange

I have too many cameras. Even the store where I buy cameras has told me that. Still, I treasure each of them. The way they look. The special photography purpose that makes each camera unique. The art of learning how to use them. The places in mind and spirit that they take me.

Many though are predicting the demise of these traditional cameras. Headlines like these 


Smartphone cameras have changed the photography industry. The operation is simple. The post production (iPhoto, Prisma, Clips, Google Photos, etc.) ingenious. The results often unexpectedly impressive. Ones that can be shared instantly.

Despite all this, it’s my hope that the traditional camera is not on the way out. There are reasons beyond photo quality that I feel this way.

The camera is a true creative instrument. The different dials, buttons, lens, settings all have to be learned, practiced, and experimented with. Capturing a scene with a camera is a creative process that absorbs all of you. Remember, how Ansel Adams would climb up sides of mountains with full field camera gear to capture special moments on film. There is also the artful look of a camera, how it fits into your hands, how it makes you feel when using it.

When you have a camera in your hand, your focus is on what is around you. How to make it special. In that space, you are apart from others, the world and your life worries. It’s what Demetrius Freeman called “discovering a world off line”in his NYT article “Do Not Disturb…”

You may not always come home with the results you wanted using a traditional camera. However, you will come home knowing more about yourself. The photos you take reflect your views of life and the world.

A traditional camera slows you down. It teaches you to look at things in more detail and differently. You recognize that scenes have meaning and feelings. Things to say that need to be captured.

You can always just put a smartphone in your pocket and go. But I am not sure you take as much art along as a companion.

David Young

Additional Reading:

“Smartphones could halve camera market in two years” by James Artarius, Digital Camera World
“Cannon Cameras can’t compete with smartphone snappers” by David Pierini, Cult of Mac
“Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain” by Demetrius Freeman, NYT