Photography in Soho

I didn’t actually take any picture while I was in Soho. 🙂

I visited the Leica store, a small store where the cameras and lenses are displayed in glass cases, like you are visiting a jewelry store and not a camera store. If you want to touch a Leica, you have to ask a sales person. I didn’t feel like I deserved to touch one, so I didn’t ask. A Leica Q sounds like a cool camera, but I wasn’t ready to drop $4,250 for one. None of my pictures are worthy of a $4,250 camera. I will run back and buy one as soon as I start taking worth photos. And even if I could afford something like $10,000 that it costs for a Leica M rangefinder and a single lens, I don’t think I’d benefit from giving up autofocus.

The Lecia store also has some black and white photos hanging on the walls, presumably taken with Leica cameras. That’s something that B&H photo could learn from: the nation’s biggest camera store, but nowhere is there an actually photograph to be seen.

Next door is the Rotella Gallery which has a much bigger display of photos, with two floors of gallery space. Being a modern person, I think of a photo as a digital file, a stream of millions of zeros and ones that can be nearly instantly copied and shared on the internet with everyone on the planet. But there’s no money in that, so the gallery tries to define a photo as a limited edition print that affluent people can collect.

As a money-making operation, the gallery needs to display stuff of a less highbrow interest than one might find at a museum or other cultural institution that displays photos without any intent to profit from their sale. But not too lowbrow! Because black and white still has a cachet of being more highbrow then color, this imparts a veneer of seriousness to the otherwise kitsch genres of animal photography (see my previous post about David Yarrow) and celebrity voyeurism (represented by the photographs of Terry O’Neill ) which are the themes of the main floor.

Outside a little ways down the street, was a street vendor selling matted prints of photographs from New York City and Paris. They were technically excellent prints, pin-sharp, beautiful colors, not overdone and cheesy HDR stuff, selling for a very reasonable price of only $30 for an 11×14 print.

No, they are not as good art as David Yarrow or Terry O’Neill. Both of those guys take photographs I can’t take. I don’t have access to any celebrities of note, and I don’t have the means to go to Africa and take photos of wild animals the way that David Yarrow does. But any schmuck with a decent camera can take nice pictures of city streets.

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