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My best shot: How digital drives content

Photography isn’t my day job. As you can probably tell from my Instagram and Facebook accounts. But I’ve always taken a lot of pictures, going back to my first Brownie, through some truly clunky analogue SLRs, right up to my treasured Nikon D90.

Which is why a new 35mm analogue camera caught my eye. At first reading, the story played on my heart strings. It blends the entrepreneurial with the retro. It has a dash of innovation in the way you load a film cartridge. And at first glance it has a lot in common with the vinyl revival (this year and every year since about 2005).

But my content marketing head says something else. I’ll try and explain. Just below is my best shot from a walk around the apartment blocks of old East Berlin a couple of weeks ago.

It’s taken from ground level, looking back up the angular buildings that surround the sky. To get everything into the frame of my smartphone lens, I had to lie on my back and wriggle around until I got the right angle.

What’s this got to do with content? I’ll try and explain.

It took me about 30 minutes to get this picture. Not because of the tricky angle, but because I was working through dozens of unsatisfactory shots of the same location.

I’d pick one angle, take a sequence of pictures and review them. Then march to another corner of the courtyard, find another angle, shoot, review again.

But the point here is that I only knew they were rubbish once I scrolled through them in the photo gallery. As you can see from the montage of early shots, I was slowly looking upwards before inspiration struck.

There’s no doubt that if this had been 1996 I would have fired off a 36 shot black-and-white reel from a couple vantage points.

Then processed the film (24 hours) and spent another day in the dark room working on two or three negatives.

No doubt I would have some half decent prints by the end of it. But I bet I would never have got to the lying on my back and wriggling stage.

And that’s the thing about digital photography. You don’t just get quick results, you learn quickly too. And unlike vinyl, you are the agent of creation (not Fleetwood Mac, The Smiths or Kendrick Lamar).

As before, my heart still finds something romantic in the hours spent dodging and burning prints in the darkroom. But I know that I’m getting much better pictures today. Even if I have to endure the stares of Berliners amused by a supine Brit staring at the sky.

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