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Monday, 25 May 2020


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Start earlier.

I wish I had started earlier. There’s a period of my life from my teens to my late twenties where I have few photos, especially in high school and the three or four years after high school. I also wish I took more risks, a common regret I know, and something I could still change. I just watched The United States of Amnesia, on the life of Gore Vidal. Now that was a life.

Much less gear, much more shooting. Learn to part with gear that isn’t working after considered use, rather than hoarding the Preciouses. Or, if hoard I must, find something cheaper to hoard!

1: I set photography aside during my mid-20s to late 40s because of work, mortgages, etc., and I wish I had made time for it.

2: I wish I had not upgraded so often during the digital era chasing megapixels.

3: I wish I had not sold my Rollei 35. It was so nice to hold and look at, a little jewel.

I would stick with one system, probably Canon because I would and put together a kit for wildlife photography, buy something like a Roadtrex 210, and hit the national parks.

I would endeavor to make a whole different range of mistakes, but in reality would probably end up making several similar ones as well.

I’m 37 (I’m not old!). I got started with digital, then migrated to film and more or less stayed there, buying different systems and lenses, dabbling with this and that film stock, and enjoying my times in the darkroom with Kim K and others in DC. But I did not stay abreast of or even really learn the basics of digital image processing, and I regret that now. The film-based “workflow” (more of a work-trickle for me) is a barrier to achieving results (e.g. printed photographs) that would satisfy me. I love working with film and printing in the darkroom, but it’s hard to make it happen; at the same time, investing in new digital equipment and spending time learning how to use it effectively seems like a mountain that’s beyond my means to climb. If I had it to do over again, I would try to push myself more on digital.

I would have shot more in my late teens early 20s all the things that should never be recorded but I did and now wish I had pictures of.

Ah s***. I’m 38. Still not old, eh?

Started younger.

That's easy: Start using a view camera several years earlier than I did and buy and sell less camera gear. A lot less gear, in fact!

Oh, and work on formal projects instead of just randomly taking photos.

Early in my career working shift work and living in various small towns prevented me from taking photography courses.
Not until age 42 i had the opportunity to take continuing education photography courses at Ryerson University in Toronto.
What would i done differently? I would have taken the New York Institute of Photography correspondence course, one of those obvious things i didn`t think of at the time. If was always advertised in Popular Photography magazine.
This was all before online courses were available.

It's really quite simple I think. Photography is a vanity fair - so make everyone look her (or his) best without thinking about yourself so much. The rest will come with age, hopefully :)

i am exactly of that age and i am evaluating my failed photography business. my summary is that i should have invested in staff before gear because customers are happier to speak with a real person even if nothing comes of it rather than get a text or email. i would also move to where i can preferably walk to work as an hour+ of commute time really does a number on throughput.

An interesting question.

I have the presumption to say that I have got almost everything right, and that I would change almost nothing.

Starting at the very beginning, I should have just used Kodachrome and not cheap alternatives like Agfachrome. My 1970’s Kodachrome slides are as perfect as the day I shot them. Some other favourite shots (some are of historical value now) have faded and turned purple.

On the visual side I would not change a thing, I was able to visit places like the Photographers Gallery in London on a regular basis, which exposed me to cutting edge photography and I spent too much money in their bookshop. I was disappointed with my visit this gallery on my last visit to London. The move to bigger premises has removed the old charm and the vibe was of a much more commercial and soulless place.

I think I read the right book when starting out on composition: Principles of Composition in Photography by Andreas Feininger. A classic book still valid today. So, I have nothing much that I would change concerning my artistic journey.

After a couple of year where I did photography professionally and then as a second job, perhaps I was mistaken to not touch a camera for a few years after a photographic burn out.

Maybe I should have restarted my return to photography with something better than a digital compact. But perhaps not, as I had fun with it.

The the things I would change are more recent.

I regret that I have lost my younger courage and lack of self-awareness to do “street” photography, I wish I could change and eliminate the fear of doing “people photography”, which I am most interested in. Todays “privacy” obsessions and the risk of getting labelled a pervert or worse if kids move into the frame has left me with a fear of doing this type of photography. Or is it that the puritanical climate of today means this type of photography is best left alone?

I should have kept my Ai lenses particularly the 28 and 35 Nikon PC lenses. I had to rebuy them when I finally got a FF DSLR.

I do not know if my move to M43 was a mistake, I took some great pictures with that system and probable in the early days of the EM5 IBIS got me shots I would not have been able to get with any other system. Maybe I should have switched back to Nikon FF sooner.

One big thing I would change, is that I should have avoided getting into all those stupid arguments about “equivalence” on the M43 forum in DPR. I suffer fools badly so perhaps it was inevitable. But then again, my practical take on photography on any subject I post there, always upsets some of the armchair photographers there ( the vast majority are a great crowd though).

I have just sold every last piece of my M43kit to buy a lovely Nikon Z7. I wonder if this was a mistake as some capabilities especially with long lenses has been lost. I have just been thinking that a couple of places I have photographed with M43 would be almost impossible with my FF kit, due to logistics.

With what I now know, how photography became digital with all the current applications, I would have documented my experiences in my youth (I am now 61) much more with photos. When I was 15-16 years old I should have owned a 40 or 50mm f/1.4 lens and camera, had the negatives developed and stored, then I could digitize them now. Then I didn't have the money for photography, and whole pieces of my youth are gone, forgotten, no more memories. Such a pity, if only I had taken pictures.

I was a very young photographer in the UK whose amateur freelancing was taking pictures of the visiting rock bands and similar entertainers of the period ie Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochrane - the week before he died in the UK, and many others. The guy who bought the pictures for his weekly pop magazine wanted someone to go abroad and cover a developing conflict in the far east. I was all for it but my parents would not hear of it, parents had a much stronger say in your life in those days. Over the coming years I watched in awe and with a lot of regret how the Vietnam war unfolded and how I would have fared if a different decision had been taken. AH, if only!

I wish I would have kept my early negatives. They were foolishly thrown away in a fit of "deep cleaning."

I would listen to my Father and go to college to learn photography and then become a professional reportage photographer. I am 73 now and there have been some incredible events over my life which I would have loved rto have witnessed first hand and recorded with my camera.

10 years ago, when I was already "too old", if I had the opportunity to do-over, I might have made documentary photography as a career, but then for sure I would not have the same family and life that I have had. So I would probably turn down the offer, even if it was available.

My advice to my younger self: share more. Make simple prints and send them out.

Start younger and realise the political and social aspects of photography earlier, instead of wasting years thinking about photography as a frivolous distraction. Should have listened to my heart and not some influential friends.

I would not have gone with digital, I feel I lost ten years relearning everything. I would have stuck with film like Michael Kenna, stuck with my Linhof and not fought to earn a living from photography for donkey's years and just lived out in the bush like I do now and do exactly what I want. I also would not have got married but that's another story.....

Start earlier, and take more chances.

Spent less time and money searching for photographic 'magic bullets'.

I would have skipped my expensive and mostly useless foray into rangefinder cameras, esp. the medium format ones. It would have been nice to have realized without the outlay of cash that viewing through the actual lens was a big part of what made photography work for me ... but oh well.

Also at the time I jumped into 120 film we were only a few years away from digital capture that was good enough to make the somewhat larger prints that looked so great on 120. Reasonable people can quibble about whether black and white "looks right" in digital ... but for my stuff it was never a problem and the jump in resolution over 35mm was real.

I would take more pictures. I sometimes regret not taking a picture but I have never regretted taking a picture.


A lot. At least have done more actual photography.
I think I’d better just read what others write.

Buy fewer cameras, take more pictures.

Get started at an earlier age....buy one good quality lens per year, and....print much more.

I would have enrolled in a photography school like Brooks Institute rather than a business school. I think that I misread my calling and wasted many years pursuing a banking career rather than dive into photography full time. Ha...maybe in my next life...

I would have taken one picture a day from the time I was 8 until I was 18. I could have afforded that, and I would have pictures of every person, place, and thing I ever love, just by the sheer dint of paying attention and quantity.

—everything after this line is just detail—
I was in the film era during that whole time period, and even given the limitations of those cameras, and the price, I still would have 3,650 frames, and the odds favor getting at least 120 that I would treasure. I don’t know that I would care deeply about the camera, film, or lens. It would have been practical to use a leaf-shutter, manual, mechanical, non-interchangeable rangefinder. A 35mm-wide field of view would have been more useful than 50mm. Some kodachrome, some fp-4, would have been nice.

At the end of that ten years I would have thoroughly known exactly how to pursue my favorite photography.

(More currently, had I knowledge of the future, I would have bought a Gf-1 with the 20mm the day it came out and used it for yeeeears, damn the cost.)

I would have maintained more interest in photography during the years I was raising my family and building my career, and I would have switched from film to digital much sooner than 2014.

Taken fine art courses or full curriculum in college.

1971 through 1975... I was Larry Siegel's assistant at the 14th Street Y Gallery of Photography in Manhattan. I believe it was the first gallery in Manhattan devoted to photography.I reviewed portfolios, hung shows and mixed up the punch. I was helping paint the walls in the soon to be opened ICP with Cornell Capa.
But, my Canadian born wife couldn't handle NYC and we ended up returning to Vancouver, BC. She's still in Canada and I'm in Oregon. After a varied career as a commercial photographer and a stint as the UofOregon's PR photographer I am retired. In my seventies I'm still shooting landscapes for myself.
I think from time to time what it would have been had I let her go home alone and stayed in the city... Maybe retired there and moved to a small town upstate...

I'm not sure how I would have made this happen, but I would have gotten myself a manual camera and into a darkroom much sooner. Like, decades sooner! I can't know how that would have changed my life, of course. Maybe I just wasn't ready to relate to photography on any deep level when I was kid. But it would be interesting to know.

Tom Millea told me to sell all my equipment, and keep only that one camera I liked best. He spent his working life with just one camera, one lens.
I should have listened to him.

Never have shot jpegs.

My thinking is that most readers would describes all the mistakes they (thought) they made and would correct in a rewind/replay. My reality says that if I just had it to do over, I'd likely do it all the same way again, right or wrong. During my active photographic time, that worked out pretty well. Now, I mostly look at filed negatives and transparencies, and occasionally make digital fine prints, at my darkroom desk. Yeah, I still have that room, but of course never use it for its original purpose, perhaps like many of you.
Not that there is anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld might have said.

Shoulda kicked GAS to the curb, but--still have not (completely !). Shoulda recognized that a 35 mm reportage lense and a 105 portrait would take me a long way on my journey. Add a 70-200 utility long zoom for sports/wildlife and an ultrawide for fun and games, and I had more than enough GEAR. Shoulda figured out earlier that Leica and Summicron were different than Nikon and any other lense combo, and vice versa. Shoulda focused more on the things that were changing before my eyes, but somehow I could not see them, like family, friends, events, environment. Oh well, other than that it has been an amazing, satisfying, and rewarding adventure ! Ever onward, with Good Light !

This may not bet the type of response you were looking for, however
I don't think I would opt to change anything, because I don't believe you can segment you life into pieces. If you 'changed, or did more photographically (or any other endeavor) you would also change or do less of something else. ALL the stuff you did for good or bad , made you who you are. Plus there is never any way to know of changing something in the past would have had the effect you think it would have had. (The old Hindsight being 20/20 thing)
If you are comfortable or happy with who you have become, be grateful and proud of that. If you are not happy with any part of who you have become, then Look forward, to where you CAN change if you want to, instead of looking back to where nothing can be changed.
There are lots of reasons to be excited about the future, the past pretty much IS what it Was.
I guess I'm saying spend your time and energy in the only place where you can have an impact.

If I could step back in time I’d tell my younger self to shoot negative film, probably black and white, rather than the slide film I shot throughout the 80s and 90s. At the time, I enjoyed projecting them with the thought of eventually printing them. When finally getting around to scanning and printing, I found the prints disappointing. Thank goodness I have a great projector and I had the foresight to stock up on bulbs.

I'm not a professional photographer but I believe I would have moved to using RAW files earlier. I shot jpg on trips back when I had a Nikon D80, thinking that it didn't matter much and I didn't have or want any photo processing software. Note that I'm not averse to software or computers - I've worked in IT for 35 years but I didn't want something else to force me into sitting and staring at a screen. But I now recognize that the power of post processing is in RAW files and now that I've gotten better at LR and PS, I wish I could do the same adjustments on the old images. Maybe its an excuse to go back to those places with my D850!

Starting now, young again in this day and age, or re-living this life, but with the knowledge and experience of the first time around ?

I would have taken out a loan to buy the absolutely best camera and lenses instead of buying several iterations of progressively better equipment, which ultimately ended up costing far more.

More darkroom time.

I started in my teens in the 1980's and, if I could go back, I would take a lot more photos of people I was a school with, school events, street photography around the town, that sort of thing. I think that would be a wonderful archive to look back on. Of course, I am forgetting that I simply didn't have the money I have now, so I guess that's at least one reason I didn't do that.

I would have bought much less equipment.

My first "real" camera was a Yashica Lynx-5000 rangefinder (in 1967) and then a Pentax H3 in 1969. Those were ok, but then I started buying tons of gear, none of which was satisfactory in the long term.

What I should have done was get a Leitz Minolta CL in 1973 with the 40mm lens, then, eventually, getting a 90mm and a 28mm. I would use that combo (replacing the body if it broke) until the digital era. The practical ($) effect of this decision would have been that I could have shot much more without nearly the hassle of larger cameras. Looking back at the images I did make, over 95% of them would have been just as good, if not better with the CL.

More time spent shooting, less time spent thinking about what to shoot.

1. Get some formal training, as in taking an actual class.
2. Find some way to better navigate the transition from film to digital, though I don't really know how.

Shoot more - more friends, more people, more places. Document the people and places I know. Sadly, with time, many of them are gone.

Think more about what I was doing and less about what I was doing it with.

I think for me the short answer would be nothing. I've taken several classes....wish I could have a home darkroom but at this point that ain't going to happen. I have a nice inkjet printer. And I have a closet full of awesome gear. I don't have a view camera, but as a hobbyist I'm not sure it would be worthwhile.

I wish I started with my darkroom way earlier. I did not sell my Focomat, but I don’t see myself doing it when I retire and go back home. I also have some lenses that have not been used enough to justify them. Wish I took more photography trips with fellow photographers.

I wish I didn't stubbornly cling to film while never seeing the writing on the wall.

After three decades building expertise and reputation in one field, I’m starting over with a new direction that focuses on photography. I was going to say that I regret not making this change a decade sooner. But life doesn’t always work that way. Ten years ago simply wasn’t the right time. I regret not having those ten years for my new direction, but I also know they weren’t there to be had. So instead I’m very grateful that I could make this change, and that I still have ten (or so) years left to pursue it professionally.

And on a personal note...

I would've taken better pictures- more of 'em too!

I wouldn't have waited until I was in my 50s to go full time.

Pare down on gear.
Stick to one format.
Take pictures every week.
Learn/perfect the ability to sketch.

For much of my life I had no money and no way to pursue photography beyond the occasional pedestrian trip to the drug store for 4x6 color prints. It wasn’t until I was older and could afford my first digital camera that the world of photography opened up to me. It was a revelation. The instant feedback and the online resources blew my mind. I wish I had sought out a mentor in my early digital days. Perhaps I would have been more conscious of how I spent my time and mental energy and would have a more cohesive body of work now. I think this was a case where being an introvert bit me in the ass.

Had more sex.

1) Kept my lenses.

2) Mastered flash exposure.

3) Stuck with one brand.

I would buy a Leica V35 enlarger when it was still sold as new. At that time, I balked at the price tag.

For some strange reasons, my friend sold his V35 but kept the Focotar 40/2.8 lens. So I am using his lens on my Kaiser 6x6 enlarger.

It's a tough choice deciding between the Apo-Rodagon-N 50/2.8 and the Focotar whenever I set up my darkroom to enjoy a few quiet hours of printing.

I've been very fortunate, and I wouldn't change much.

I've taken well over a million shots and haven't regretted any. The only regrets are of shots that got away.

Since I have too much old camera equipment lying around now, I'd like to say that I should have bought less and shot more (except almost everyone would have liked to have shot more), except that's not really true since I've always liked gadgets, from radio kits in the 50's through computers since the 60's and cars anytime. My love of gadgets and science has enabled me to have a professional photo career alongside architecture that got me assignments that no one else in my area could or would handle.

I am who I am because of who I was. It's been a good run.

I'd like to have had more courage.

I would have bought my iPhone X sooner. Like 1974.

I'm a few years past that age. I don't think I would change anything. I've been taking photos since I was 10 or so -- 57 years ago -- but have hardly any negatives or prints from that long ago. I've had the gift of business travel to faraway lands and led a fairly serendipitous life and career -- never planning much but taking advantage of opportunities that popped up.

I do have lots of faded slides from the travels (damn it, I should have used Kodachrome, not that crappy cheap Agfachrome). I also have a lot of more recent prints in boxes, from the last 10-20 years when I had the time to devote seriously to the hobby.

But you know what? My memories of places and events knock the crap out of the photos. I've seen things and been places and met people and did not take photos because that would have been a distraction. And a photo captures a moment, but not the moments leading up to that moment and following it.

The photos would not have meant anything to anybody but me. The memories are much better.

Despite that, I try to get out every Sunday morning with a camera.

Such reflections are what a sleepless 3AM is for.

I should have spent more time doing photography when I was younger and had more spare time. Whether I ever would have is another matter.

In the early nineties, my wife bumped into a former co-worker at a conference and learned that he had taken a job with Microsoft in Seattle. A couple days after the conference he called my wife and offered her a job working for him. After my wife mentioned my work situation, he offered me a job as well.

After sleeping on it overnight, my wife said "Here's what I think we should do. I'll take the job with Microsoft, and you'll just do photography." And I said "No."

So my do-over – I'd say "Yes."

I feel like film is getting the last laugh these days. Sure it makes sense that your average 'needed' photo of a new ding-dong is shot digitally for the sunday circular....but regular shutterbugs are ditching their laptops for iPads. Who wants to carry a 5D Mark whatever and xfer a bunch of images over bluetooth to LR mobile when they could use a svelte M4 and have a scanning lab email you a bunch of ready to go pics that have a preset built right in?

My lab had it's best month ever this May. Nobody cares about the D780, they want a Rolleiflex.

A part of my career in thunderstorm research involved storm chasing both as a hobby and as part of my job. For years I shot Kodachrome with a Nikon FM and a few manual focus AI and AIS lenses. Then in 1989 I switched to video and stayed with it for several years. I regret having done that and would happily swap all those low-res videos of storms for a few good Kodachromes.

I've been living photography non-stop since my early twenties. I've been sent on assignment all over the world and seen places I would never have had access to otherwise. I've played with all the cool gear I ever wanted to put my hands on. I documented my family to excess. I didn't spend all the money I made so I can retire when I want to and spend more time....doing photography. It's been a fabulous ride and I can't imagine how much I would have missed if I'd had a "real job."

I'm still working commercially and enjoying it. I guess my one regret is that I didn't change camera systems often enough...

[Ha! There is still time my friend. --Mike]

Do over? Hard to say since where I live, the people making up my family and my state of mind would have been entirely different.

However, I should have spent more time in the darkroom working on making decent prints. I bought off or minor brand SLR's and parts/pieces were rare and I never really exercised them parts/pieces I did have all that hard.

With digital, I find myself in the same place. My brand of cameras/lenses are becoming more rare and I doubt that I will ever buy a new body. I have not gotten rid of any camera body intentionally throughout my addiction, I just do not use them. My better half (who I would have never met if I did it "Over") wants to downsize so my collection is probably going to the dump along with all my negatives/slides and hard drives.

Do over? No, just coming to grips with mediocracy and old age.

I've read all the comments and most people were simply saying "I should be more like Vivian Maier, less equipment, more pictures!"

Two photographic regrets and a personal one.
Once traded a perfectly good 8x10 camera for a laminar flow color print processor which was worthless.
Foolishly failed to fill my freezer with 120 TXP when I had the chance.
On the personal side there were times when I could have shown loving kindness but because I was too angry or caught up in my own stuff I failed.
On July 1 I am retiring after 46 years in TV news so this is a good time for a little reflection. Nice timing Mike

If by some miracle I now had all the multiple hundreds of cameras, lenses, accessories I bought/sold/traded in the last 50+ years;
A: I’d probably fondle and polish them a lot and feel rich.
B: My wife would just nod that famous “last straw” nod, because she knows me well (as she tossed me and my camera shop out of the house)
C: I’d make many of the same GAS powered mistakes, but they’d probably be a lot more profitable as “Vintage” gas mistakes.
After all I’m still not that much wiser, just that much older and much less able to financially appease the gas gods.
D: The positive; Still shooting every day, still seeing new light and subjects, still loving a life made much, much better by photography.

In the late 1980s I contemplated studying for an MFA in photography. But I had just started a new career in industrial photography (which was the first good-paying job I'd ever had) and the academic idea fell by the wayside, for that and several other good reasons. So I'v continued as a professional, and made my own work along the way. Might have been interesting if I could have pushed my 'vision' full-time... but hey, I haven't given up yet.

Did life come out to greet you?
Did it stand in the doorway and meet you?
Did it carry you over the threshold?
Or did it stand in the shadows and wait?

[I give up, what's that from? --Mike]

I wish I had bought less camera bags.


I shouldn't have taken a break from photography when I moved to NYC from abroad.

I should have started portrait and model photography much, much earlier.

Spent less money on equipment, more on travel. Spent less time making employers happier and more making myself happier.

I wasted so much time and money on 35mm film equipment when I was really after medium format results.

I spent 32 years in the microelectronics industry. Then, at age 59, we poured my retirement money into starting up Really Right Stuff, our own photography equipment company.

RRS was a success, and after 12 years we achieved everything that we'd hoped to accomplish, selling at age 71. It was the best work I'd ever done. Health permitting, it's never too late!


It’s a poem I wrote.

[You know, I guessed that, when it didn't show up in Google. I'd love to read the whole poem. Or was that it? --Mike]

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