I guess I should start of by introducing myself, everything else would be impolite. I'm a vocational photographer and photo assistant, working in Luxembourg City at Photography Raoul Somers. Raoul being the main photographer, my job consists of doing all the retouching, computer work and everything that comes after the shoot. Keeping in touch with the clients, printing, sending out files and so on. I'm also often responsible for light design, deeply involved in all things creative and marketing decisions. I'm an assistant and that's what I do, basically everything that needs being done. Oh, and I'm also second shooter or I replace Raoul when he's not there. And I love my job more than you could ever imagine.
Like a lot of photographers and creatives in general, I have my ups and downs. The latter can completely crush you. But every now and then they lead to something new, something exiting. They push you to get out of your routine since most often it is just this - the routine - that is responsible for those dismal thoughts.
During one of these cast down phases, I realized I was not using my photo gear outside of work anymore. I had become a photographer out of love for the craft, out of the wish to create something. I wasn't creating anymore, just producing. I don't mean to say that client work didn't require any creativity, far from that. That's what makes a professional photographer in the end, the ability to be creative on demand. My problem was that I couldn't be creative when I was away from work. I had just recently upgraded to a Canon 5D Mark III, had the best lenses available but I woudn't touch it when I wasn't labeled "Photography Raoul Somers". That was a lot of money sitting there, being beautiful but not useful. Something had to change.
During that same period, my grandfather died. It was my father's dad who lived in Montana, we didn't have much contact. Dad flew to the US to handle things, to collect some stuff and among some mementos he brought back his old photo equipment which he then passed on to me.
One night I was contemplating about all of this gridlock stuff happening and me being stuck and... all of that. I may have been grouchy. A little bit perhaps. Anyway. I was searching for an explanation, what was holding me back? It was then that I reached for my grandfathers camera, an old Agfa rangefinder. Something triggered in me, as if someone had kindled a fire inside, I wanted to take photos with that thing! I looked through the viewfinder and thought that for some reason this camera appealed to me more than that huge machine-gun of a DSLR ever did.
I began researching and tried to find something like a digital rangefinder type of camera. My first obvious find was the Leica M Series. They where exactly what I was searching for but still, something was holding me back to buy one. I held it in my hands a few times at the store and I had the same mental block. But why? I swore to myself that I woulnd't spend that much money on something that I still wouldn't use in the end. That's when my eyes fell on the Fuji X system. They where comparatively a bargain and had one advantage for a lazy guy like myself: autofocus.
You have one big advantage being an assistant. Your private photo gear belongs to you, you can do with it whatever you want and don't worry about it affecting your work, that's what the studio's cameras are there for after all. So I went ahead and did something that would be unresponsible for any professional: I sold all my Canon stuff and bought a Fuji X-E2 without even trying it out first. Since I wasn't creative with my Canon gear anyway, I just went for it. Bam, done.
Yes, I found back my love for photography. For some reason the block was gone. I'd say that the Fujis - plural because in the meantime an X-T1 has joined the bag - have helped quite a bit. They are more affordable and smaller so I take them on the streets. Yes it was unresponsible nonetheless. They aren't perfect, I often wrestle with them, but what has changed the most in the end is that now, I'm taking photos again - a lot. They are the perfect camera for me, at this moment in time. I sometimes miss the autofocus of the Canon but more importantly, what I don't miss are the empty memory cards in there.
And this is who I think I am today. Of course, things are always more complicated than that. I'm not there yet, not where I want to be, but that's a story for another time. For now, I'm wrestling where before I was silent. For an artist, that is all one could wish for.