If you’ve come here for tips on photographing our four-winged, six-legged friends then let me save you some time – this isn’t the place for you. If however you enjoy the whitterings of someone old enough to know better then welcome!
A social butterfly is someone who is social or friendly with everyone, flitting from person to person, the way a butterfly might dance from flower to flower perhaps. In a similar way I am perhaps the photographic equivalent in that I have an interest in all aspects of the hobby and regularly flit between different genres or topics. At the moment it mainly pinholes and panoramas (catchy title for a future post there) although my regular reader will know that I have also embarked on a project involving dry glass plates during the last week.
I think I decided early in life that I was going to be a jack-of-all-trades rather than a Master-of-One. It definitely sums up my working life well and also to the myriad of interests I’ve had over the years. I was a county-level basketball player in my teens with an England trial to my credit (I made it into the final round but not the final cut) and played every opportunity I could until the interest faded as my career took over. I collected stamps, researched family history, walked the fells, had a thriving home-made beer and wine making set-up for years. Keeping, breeding and showing cage and aviary birds took up a big chunk of my early teens, an interest that was rekindled when my own children were younger and resulted in five or six, self-built aviaries in the garden of our Bristol home. DIY, cycling, astronomy, home computers – all have consumed my spare time almost obsessively at one time or another. Photography of course, and at one time I would have a try at virtually anything the digital camera magazines could write about. Local history, social history, writing. Everything apart from cars basically. The drawers and cupboards in my home are testament to many and varied interests over the years but the one constant since the early/mid-1970s has been photography.
Over the last dozen years or so however, I have calmed down and photography has been my main and for the most part my only hobby. No more flitting then? Well no. The flitting has evolved and I now flit from subject to subject within the more limited confines of a single hobby. Currently I am concentrating mainly on pinhole photography and the lens-based large format and medium format cameras that I own are sulking in the cupboard. The Horizon panoramic cameras however have been a constant in my bag since last October and it’s probably no exaggeration to say I’ve exposed at least one roll of film per week in either the Kompakt or the S3 since then.
As I sit here my shoulder bag is at my feet. It contains an ONDU 6×6 pinhole, the Horizon S3 and the Fuji X100T digital camera that goes almost everywhere with me. The larger Fuji digicams are upstairs, one is used almost exclusively for photographing negatives (it’s my most used digicam by a country mile). The two Bronica cameras are sulking in their respective bags along with their lenses and various accompanying accessories. There are also an embarrassingly large number of other cameras kicking around unused now for months and in some cases over a year.
I have made some efforts to give life to my collection, all of which I have used by the way, just not recently in most cases. My Mamiya C3 Professional TLR is on loan as is the Mamiya RB67 and of course one of my 5×4 pinhole cameras is currently on a “world” tour. I keep promising myself that I will either use or move on cameras but rarely get that far although I did pass a spare Holga to a fellow photographer recently so I have made some effort!
But, am I alone as a photographic butterfly? I suspect not. The hobby has so many options that it’s hard to be anything but. Only the most single-minded and focused individual dedicates themselves to a single aspect of the hobby. It’s a hobby that caters to a whole spectrum of interests. For the digital photographer with an interest in computers there’s endless opportunities for combining the two interests. Like making things? Handy with tools? Photography has you covered! Interested in historical processes or chemistry perhaps? Say no more. Photography has an avenue you can follow to your hearts content. The list goes on.
So, I will remain a photographic butterfly, probably until I shuffle off this mortal coil, and I am sure that there are many subjects I’ve yet to experience. One thing is for sure though and that is that the wide and varied range of skills and knowledge this butterfly has acquired over the years is all of great use as these interests develop (no pun intended). This photographic butterfly has been accumulating a decent spread of transferable skills along the way!