Small is beautiful

The love of small cameras is another legacy of Brownie, the camera that triggered my photography obsession as a six-year-old. I am fortunate to own “state-of-the-art” (= heavy!) DSLR cameras and lenses for my professional work; but for the sheer joy of walking around and making pictures, especially on holidays or otherwise for leisure, it is Brownie’s descendants that I turn to – compact cameras.

There is a saying that “the best camera is the one you have with you at the time”.  

These days, for many people, it is their smart-phone that serves as their go-to camera. They are fantastic devices and I use mine too. As yet, my iPhone is not my “Handbag Camera” of choice though because, well, it’s a phone, really.

bridget elliot photographer sydney

It’s time to introduce “Handbag Camera”, the instrument(s) that have taken all the Travel photographs on this website and those in the Environment section, too. To qualify as a Handbag Camera, the instrument has to be small, beautifully crafted, look like a camera, include manual functions, be able to shoot in RAW (uncompressed) format and have excellent IQ – image quality.

There are many such small cameras on the market today (although not all of them are gorgeous!) and I have had a few since 2006, when I first started to travel with them. They are light and so less intrusive when photographing people. For those who are interested, most of the images in Travel and Environment are taken with the Fujifilm X10 or Fuji X100 cameras – both small and beautiful, and I chose between either depending on the size of my handbag!

I have just added a new, and bigger Handbag Camera to my collection, for larger handbags – the luscious Leica X Vario.

I’m using Handbag Camera to document trees in our area of Sydney – not as trees per se but as a living presence that adds something sculptural and exquisite to our built environment, quite apart from the shade that they yield and the haven and food source that they provide for wildlife. I’ve chosen to do so in black and white – to express their form, first and foremost. It’s a personal project, in response to the increasing loss of trees in our neighbourhood to “lifestyle” backyards, garages and ocean glimpses.

Here is an interesting story about a small camera that changed the world:

If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.

 Eve Arnold (1912-2012).