January 13, 2009 ·

Michael Reichmann

Once Upon a Time….

Once upon a time there was a young career photographer. He was talented, but he didn’t have much money. 

Nevertheless, because it was the mid-’60’s and he was reacting to his depression/war era parents, he thought that money wasn’t important — art always came first.

Consequently while as his peers, who were developing their careers alongside his, boughtNikon Fs,M series LeicasandHasselblads, our hero had to satisfy himself usingPentaxandMinoltasalong with inexpensive third-party lenses fromTamron,Tokinaand the like. He reveled in the simplicity of his ways.

And, our hero succeeded. His photographs, made with cheap cameras on even cheaper lenses were widely published in major magazines, his better work was collected by major galleries and national institutions, and he was able to make a decent living as a freelance photojournalist.

Meanwhile his colleagues and competitors continued to tease and distress him about his not using "the best".

Then the illness struck.He started to believe that they might be right. As quickly as he could he started to buy top rated cameras and lenses.Nikons,Leicas,Contax,Hasselblads— all the top brands. His family’s life-style suffered as he plowed more and more money into the finest camera bodies and lenses available. Finally his career as well as his personal life were in jeopardy as his spending exceeded his financial abilities.

Years later he reviewed this period of his life. With hindsight he saw how in fact his best work from that time of his life was done when he was poor and using so-called "amateur equipment". There was a freshness and a clarity of vision that became veiled by the later obsession with lines/mm, titanium bodies, exotic lens elements and the like.

Today he can afford to buy whatever equipment he wishes — and he does, and enjoys every one of them. But, he always remembers the lesson that difficult period of his life taught him. 

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Michael Reichmann is the founder of the Luminous Landscape. Michael passed away in May 2016. Since its inception in 1999 LuLa has become the world's largest site devoted to the art, craft, and technology of photography. Each month more than one million people from every country on the globe visit LuLa.

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