The Problem With Hipster Cameras

Proto-hipster (and my influencer), Elvis Costello

The only problem I have with “hipster cameras” is that there are (so called) famous people who tout them as a fashion accessory and couldn’t take a half decent photo if Henri Cartier Bresson gave them personal lessons. Which of course could only be done if said hipster were to purchase a Bresson book and study his fine art street photography.

One of the “tricks” that hipsters have tried to pull for decades now – going back to the 90’s – is the over use of “irony” or the ironic and vaguely sarcastic gesture. The idea that anything they do is art – or anti art just because – with no reason or thought behind that snapshot. I’ve even seen Vloggers on YouTube who are supposedly “influencers” have a really nice video with very cool jazz music and then their street photography is pure crap – nothing inspiring, poorly framed, no real care for lighting, and even the subject is either barely noticeable or its an ironic picture of a dumpster with graffiti on it.

Oh – and don’t get me started on how hipsters – using Tik Tok or other silly assed social media sites have driven Fugifilm sales to the point where Fuji can’t make enough of just about anything. Good for Fuji – maybe – at least for now. When the fad is over – and the hipsters move on to hawking air fryers because they got older – there will be a ton of hipster cameras on the market.

OK – rant is out of my way. After thinking about this for a while – I realized that there is one really GREAT thing that I like about the whole hipster camera scene – and that is “awareness” of great photography as well as great cameras. There are young people finding out about film, Roleiflex, Hasselbald, Leica and other iconic cameras, and the Fuji X100V being the “poor man’s Leica”. As much as I can’t stand TV Personalities, (and especially “Reality Show” TV Personalities) – at least one had a Contax T2 – which I had back in the day, and it is a really cool little camera.

So to sum it up – even if someone is going through the motions – I can’t hate them for at least learning what was cool in the past and why – what was quality and why people did what they did back then. I do hope the young people don’t have their camera ripped off their person when someone mugs them – and that is a growing concern in every city in the US (just as it was in the 1970’s in NYC which I remember clearly). SF and Oakland are as bad as NYC was 44 years ago – when I left NJ.

But the fact that they are at least learning is what counts. And then I was also a sort of hipster when I walked around some of the great cities of the world with my Pentax ME Super or my Leica M6 back in the 80’s – so perhaps I have been a little too harsh on these young people – I say let them live out their fantasy – just as I did.

If they are really lucky – in 40 years (just like I have) – they will find a treasure trove of fantastic old photo’s that really were / are fine art street photography – posthumously. In a way I guess I fit what the 80’s version of a hipster would be – I made good money so could afford a Leica M6 but couldn’t use it as well as the simpler ME Super – but I did study the great photographers and still have all these great old monographs – many out of print. Hmmmmm.

Kids these days.

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