When I wrote about mirrorless cameras with EVFs back in 2010......


...the typical response from legions of photographers was something like: "I'll stop using DSLRs when you pry my cold, dead hands off my Nikon (or Canon, or Pentax or.....). A few years ago I was told it would take a decade or more before mirrorless cameras outsold DSLRs.
I was also told by a huge number of working photographers that: "Real Pros will never stop using optical finders!!!" 

Imagine how surprised I was when I walked into my local camera store. They finally organized all of their used cameras. These are cases filled with almost nothing but DLSR cameras. All used. All looking for new homes. All hoping to escape recycling or salvage. 

Seems like a whole lot of dyed-in-the-wool DSLR adherents died all at once. Or maybe they just had their minds changed by progress. I guess that could happen. I just don't see it very often...

(Yeah. That was twelve+ years ago...)

When I asked the staff about the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of Nikon and Canon and third place finisher DSLR cameras bodies and lenses they had on their shelves they told me that very few people even consider buying a DSLR these days and the store had been  buying the used ones up for peanuts, or on trade, with the idea that a barely used, professional DSLR would sell well to people who still liked the moving mirror/optical finder technology. 

The follow up? They've actually stopped buying used DSLRs  because --- no one seems to want them anymore. They don't actually sell these days. But Sony A7s, Panasonic GH cameras and Olympus OM-1s, even Leicas, are flying off the shelves.

I got bored photographing the DSLR surplus with my phone and asked to see the case with the used L mount system stuff, or the used Leica SL/CL stuff. It didn't exist. Seems people don't trade them in very often. Like, almost never. Maybe it's because of all that stuff I wrote about in 2010. The tectonic shift finally arrived in spades and now it's on track to be the decade of mirrorless cameras. In whatever form/brand you like. Suprisingly people finally figured out the advantages of mirrorless cameras and EVF finders. Better late than never.

The Ebb and Flow of Work. Now preparing for a minor uptick.

Central Texas Wine Harvest. Early morning start.

I've given up listening to advice about the 'inevitable' winding down of a career on the account of age. My clients don't seem to notice. The gear still works. Both photographic and human. And it's really nice to work with people who are willing to pay well for what you like to do.

Everyone tells me that if I retire I can spend my days doing whatever I want. Hmmm. What would that look like? I could get up early and go to swim practice! But I already do that. I could pick and choose the projects I'd like to work on! But I already do that. I'd be master of my own schedule.....and if you don't think I already do that you don't know me well... 

Last month I did three jobs. Or assignments. One was to take portraits of advertising people against a white background and then drop them into a nice, believable composite with various industrial backgrounds I'd also photographed. The portraits took the better part of a Monday morning. The industrial scapes took a "mixed" day which I describe as a choppy salad of photographing mostly when the mood struck me but almost always while out for a walk with a camera and lens. You know, something I regularly do without the crutch of an assignment. The post processing took a day. The payoff matches or exceeds our domestic "burn rate" for a month.

The second assignment, also for a local advertising agency was a bit of a rush job for an art director with whom I've worked for over thirty years. We met at a seafood wholesaler and photographed various arrangements of fresh gulf jumbo shrimp on crushed ice. We were in and out of the location in three hours time. There was a bit of post production in the afternoon and the payoff was somewhat about having fun goofing around with my friend, but also a quick payment that would easily finance another (contraindicated) used Leica CL.

The third assignment was a half day spent photographing attorneys in front of a white background in a comfy, large conference room at the Four Seasons Hotel. After the photo selections were made I also composited each image with a corporate looking background. I spent two days doing post production. The payoff is another month and a half of burn rate for the domestic operation we call "home life." 

If you have the ability to meet your financial obligations by working three or four days a month I would have to say that 'official' retirement really wouldn't gain me a meaningful amount of spare time or time to play. I think I have that pretty well wired right now. 

When I finish a project I always have the thought that, because of the markets, or the recession, or the plague, or my age, or something, this will be the last time I ever get booked. The last email from a client. The last phone call. The last request for a bid. It's sheer paranoia but there it is. 

And so I delivered my "last" two jobs on Monday and sent out bills to the clients on Tuesday. And then I steeled myself for the eventuality that this was it. The gray hair (white, actually) would serve as work repellent and age-ism would take care of the rest. I'd never work again. Never be able to justify buying new cameras based on actual mission critical need. My work life would be over and I'd resign myself to an attempted relevance by volunteering for something. Anything. 

It's horrifying being an extrovert and needing to have frequent (and fun) human contact. 

But then, after a rousing swim practice in hot water, surrounded by long term aquatic friends I came home to make coffee and read my email. And there it was.... a booking to photograph a doctor on Monday. Then a second email from the same very large medical practice letting me know that they had eight other doctors who needed to be photographed in the studio this month. The doctors would each be getting in touch to set up individual appointments. 

No negotiations. No wrangling over details. No requests for budget reductions.  Just solid, fun portrait work on my own home turf --- with me making the schedules. Yay. Something fun to do. 

On Monday I'm going to try pressing that odd assemblage of the Sigma fp and the 35-135mm Zeiss lens into service. It's probably a really bad idea and I should just default to the easy solution and use the Leica SL2 and a portrait lens. But there it is. It's really the play that makes all this fun. 

For now the biggest task in front of me between now and Monday is to clean and straighten. Clean and file. Clean and set up lighting. Not a bad way to spend another couple of days in the Texas oven.