Last year I reviewed three different medium format digital cameras. They all had their strengths and they all had their weaknesses. But I enjoyed the process of reviewing them not because I knew I'd get better images but because it gave me a new excuse to photograph my old friends.
One of the portraits I took was of my friend Paul Bardagjy, who may be the best architectural photographers in North America. Had I proposed pointing a Nikon or Olympus camera at him I'm not sure there would have been enough of a lure to drag him into my studio. But we're all curious about new stuff and I think that did the trick.
Photographers are interesting friends. Most people have boring jobs that are repetitive and linear. Everyone knows what to expect. Everyone knows that they have to be at their desks at a certain time. They know the rules are proscribed and rigid. Unwilling to disrupt their income, most people are loathe to make drama at work so they save it for their personal lives. If you are the friend, spouse or relation of a person with a "real" job you know that they can sometimes go out of their way to introduce the drama missing from their job into their personal lives. Something personal is always flying out of control. Relationships, finances, health or weird hobbies.
Photographers, as a rule, don't do this because our work lives are filled with constant uncertainty and drama. Work that doesn't come. Checks that don't come when the work finally does. Psycho clients and crazed assistants. Weird demands and even weirder plans.
I think that's why I like hanging out with photographers like Paul. They've seen it all before. They've lived through client drama and they've been out on the edge of the business cycle but survived to shoot another day.
Paul is like that. Very few things stump him. He's an artist and a business genius. That's why architects like to have him on their projects. He gets to the root of the project and spins it visually in a manner poetic. And he does it without any drama. That's for people in lesser occupations.
About the photo: Can't remember which big, fat medium format digital camera from 2008. Almost certain that the light was a big flash in a big umbrella aimed through a big diffuser from one side. One light. One subject. One smile. All done.
Friends like that you keep around.