News Photo-Philosophy

CoronaVirus isn’t going to stop me Blogging about Cameras and Photography

I’ve spent this last week or so doing all sorts of alien things. We’ve had to make arrangements to temporarily close The Kiln the coworking space I run, all of my staff at F8 (including myself) have been sent to work from home, and pixl-latr has been causing me all sorts of monumental headaches. Ok, that last one is fairly normal…!

Joking aside – quite far aside in fact – things have gotten pretty serious. Having conversations with our staff about a desire to pay them their full salary for as long as we can manage in a world where a large chunk of society seems to be grinding to a halt is not something I dreamed we would need to be doing even as little as 10 days ago.

Fortunately, I think we are going to be ok. The business community we operate within – or at very least our clients at F8 – seem to be pushing ahead regardless, for the moment at least. We also have a bit of a buffer in The Kiln that should mean it doesn’t sink even if it has to remain closed for a good few months. (Since writing this, the UK government has announced a fairly significant package of support for businesses like ours, so it looks like we will be ok…).

As for pixl-latr, I’m just trying to work out how I can make all that happen without leaving the house. With my wife working in a school that’s going to be providing some childcare services to local kids who’s parents are “Key Workers” I’m otherwise stuck at home with my own kids with little desire to venture out, in or outside my duties as a parent or business owner. One way or another, I suspect a large percentage of you reading this are going to be mostly housebound too. What a strange thought that is.

The first response I had to the idea of this new home-life was that it would at least provide me some more time to create content for this website. I’m very unlikely to be going on photo/video shoots for work for the time being, so even though I’ll be at home with the kids, in theory I should be gaining a few hours in the week that I can put my mind to writing.

Yet when I sat down to start writing a post I’ve been planning about a some of the first shots I’ve taken with the new Fuji X100v, all I could think about was the impact of this damned virus. I don’t have the virus – not to my knowledge anyway – but it seems so deeply rooted into my psyche at the moment, that the idea of doing something so normal (normal to me at least) as writing about a camera seemed alien. In other words, I’ve spent so much time doing alien things recently that they’ve almost become the norm, and with that, my old norms have become more unusual. Even just typing that makes me feel a little uneasy…

And the fact is, we’ve not even touched the sides yet. School closures, societal restrictions, shortages of food and other essentials (loo roll!?!) are just the beginning. As Dave Walker said to me in an email the other day:

“We’re in a surreal sort of place at the moment waiting for the hurricane to hit. The excrement is very much in full flight, headed for the World’s biggest fan and we’re all hoping to avoid a mouthful.”

I really couldn’t put it better than that (I hope you don’t mind the quote, Dave…?). But whilst all this is fairly undeniable, there’s little to be gained from getting stressed or panicked about any of it. There is going to be a lot for us all to deal with. I for one know that there will be a lot I need to do to keep my work and home life functioning (even with the support from the government). But there will still be downtime. And I would suggest that how that downtime is spent is going to be of huge importance to the sanity of a lot of us – it certainly will be to me.

So where does this leave me, and what’s the point of this blog post? Well, to begin with, I think just needed to write something down. Before I can get back to trying to find some normality in the process of writing about cameras and photography, I just needed to write something about this nightmare-hell-ride, I guess to a degree, to help me process it. But more than that, I felt that I couldn’t just carry on writing and publishing posts about cameras and pretending everything is normal without taking a bit of time to acknowledge the fact that it’s really not.

That being said, I suppose the point I want to make here is that whilst a lot of things in society aren’t normal – and probably won’t be for a while – it doesn’t mean that some things can’t carry on as they were. In fact, I would go as far to say that it’s actually really quite important for as many of the normal things we do to carry on as uninterrupted as possible.

Just for my own benefit, I can’t help thinking that I probably do need to carry on blogging. Writing about cameras and photography over the last 7 years of running this website has always provided me with something of a distraction. It’s something to concentrate on that’s other than whatever else might be causing me stress at any given time. So when things are as stressful as they have the capacity to be now, well, I’m sure you won’t hold it against me if I continue to choose the relive myself of at least some of that stress in the way I have grown to rely on.

More than my own benefit though, I hope this website can continue to provide a bit of a distraction for you guys too. Both those of you who read it, and anyone who might be inspired to write a few words for it in the weeks and months to come. There’s no solution here, 35mmc obviously isn’t going to cure CoronaVirus, but I really do hope it might provide a tiny bit of momentary relief from the stresses and strains it has the potential to cause.

So yeah, in short, CoronaVirus isn’t going to stop me blogging about cameras and photography, not because it’s an exceptional thing to do, just because its a normal thing to do, and I can’t think of many things that would make me more happy right now than a little bit of normality once in a while.

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32 Comments

  • Reply
    Sam
    March 23, 2020 at 10:26 am

    Great post Hamish! I’m based in Worcester too and it feels like things are actually starting to hit home here now. My mum works for the NHS and wasn’t worried at all a week ago and said there was a lot of scaremongering; her opinion has changed in the past couple of days after witnessing some things first hand.

    My day job is as a land surveyor so it’s kind of business as usual. A lot of our work is socially distant from others anyway but it is getting harder to gain access to different sites and colleagues are starting to self-isolate so things have definitely changed. I don’t know how things will go if the government decide to lockdown.

    Anyway, I’ve been following your blog on and off for a few months ever since my wifes Grandad informed me he’d like to gift me his 45 year old Yashica Electro 35 with original receipt and warranty slip. I finally got my hands on it yesterday so now I’m looking forward to entering the world of film rather than trying to emulate it all the time with lightroom presets! I plan to clean it up and do some product shots of it that I can frame with the receipts and then I hope to use it as much as possible to show him it’s being used again. I’ve been well and truly spoiled by Sony Eye-AF and 11fps continuous shooting in my photography journey so far so I’m looking forward to taking some time to really nail the basics and to practice a bit of patience/composure.

    Looking forward to absorbing lots of info from this site!

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      March 23, 2020 at 11:35 am

      No, I don’t either, but I feel like they should lockdown as soon as possible really. It took ~750 deaths in a day and a good chunk of lockdown before Italy managed to even begin to see a turn in fortunes… and barely one. They keep saying we need to be careful making comparisons because things are different there (even though the numbers match), but why we aren’t erring on the side of more caution I will never fully understand… Anyway…

      That sound good. Those basics will definitely help, even if it’s just a little bit – good luck, and let me know how you get on!

  • Reply
    Chris Pattison
    March 23, 2020 at 10:27 am

    Nice one Hamish. It’s more important than ever for us all to keep doing the things we love to do, within the restrictions currently imposed on us. Happiness should not be on hold.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      March 23, 2020 at 11:25 am

      Quite right!

  • Reply
    Peter Wright
    March 23, 2020 at 11:03 am

    Glad to here it Hamish – reading your well thought out musings will continue to be a great distraction from the real world for us all. Best wishes to all the 35mmc community – I’m in lock down in Prague for the foreseeable future!

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      March 23, 2020 at 11:25 am

      Thanks, Peter

  • Reply
    thorsten
    March 23, 2020 at 11:14 am

    Thank you Hamish, first of all for creating this community and publishing our stuff, and keeping it up in good spirit. Writing from the center of Berlin, where you usually meet Mrs. Merkel shopping for groceries in the now barred Galeries Lafayette in Friedrichstraße, her sitting at home after her own doctor tested positive. I will grab my cameras and document whats going on, what else is there to do for a photographer?
    All the best to everybody out there, reading or posting on 35mmc, to you Hamish and your family!
    /thorsten

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      March 23, 2020 at 11:23 am

      Cheers fella!

  • Reply
    Daniel Castelli
    March 23, 2020 at 11:45 am

    Hi Hamish,
    First and foremost, everyone should be taking heed and practicing the simple and effective steps to stay healthy. Only yesterday, I washed my hands in a diluted mix of DD-X and water. I am essentially house bound, because I’m 68 (still trying to figure how that happened!) and have an underlining health condition (which kept me out of Viet Nam, but now could kill me – go figure.) So, 5:30 am runs to the supermarket w/my wife, Leica tucked under my jacket for any opportunity that may pop up, then home. Today, we scored 12 rolls of toilet paper, but the beer section was closed (damn Connecticut liquor laws!) I’ve dusted off my FE2 w/the macro lens and I’m shooting about the house and our property. Easy to do because we live in a rural area.
    Seriously, we interact with wonderful people on a daily basis, and now many have lost jobs due to so many places being closed. I hope they will be OK and come out of this in one piece.
    My best to all the people who visit you. I hope your family remains healthy. I mean, You are living in the country that gave us “Keep Calm and Carry On.”
    -Dan

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      March 23, 2020 at 4:44 pm

      Yes indeed, “keep calm and as much as possible, stay the eff in the house” that’s how it needs to be re-coined.
      Good luck Dan, it does sound like you rally need to be looking after yourself over there!

      • Reply
        Daniel Castelli
        March 23, 2020 at 4:51 pm

        We’ll be OK. Like I said, I worry about the people who were living from paycheck to paycheck…and I promise I won’t make any comment about our great leader…
        I want a tee shirt with that slogan! Sell ’em on your site! I’ll buy one!

  • Reply
    James Northcote
    March 23, 2020 at 12:05 pm

    Thanks Hamish, I’m a freelancer so everything I do is now up in the air – except for film photography which is just for me and doesn’t answer to no one. I’ve already got some self-isolation projects on the go so thank you for keeping this community alive and well whatever is happening in the mad wide world. It’s inspiring for us all.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      March 23, 2020 at 4:39 pm

      Cheers James, good luck with your work. The energy that must be being expended on worry just by freelancers… such deeply concerning times for people’s livelihoods.

  • Reply
    Nick Lyle
    March 23, 2020 at 1:08 pm

    Yes Please. Carry on by all means, glad to see you will not be keeping calm though. You describe the sensation of life in normal surroundings while an invisible storm approaches very well. Much the same here in the Seattle area, though I would argue that our national leadership is even more bonkers.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      March 23, 2020 at 4:36 pm

      Thanks, and well yes, it remains to be seen just how much damage trump did in the early days when he was in denial. Terrifyingly irresponsible!

  • Reply
    Marc Wick
    March 23, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    You are right Hamish! This bloody virus has changed everything and will change our life(-style) for a long time. In every newspaper, tv, web, radio…you are overwhelmed by the news about Corona. I work in a hospital in Germany and you can imagine what is going on there right now, like in almost every hospital worldwide. But when I come home, your blog gives me a wonderful time to relax, to read news and considerations about cameras, films, lenses, travel, analog, digital….I enjoy every new post. Thanks a lot Hamish that you continue with your blog. It gives me some minutes of normality in these crazy days.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      March 23, 2020 at 4:35 pm

      That’s great to read Mark! All the best to you – I worry most about those on the “front line” it must be such an ordeal daily!

  • Reply
    Roger B.
    March 23, 2020 at 2:19 pm

    Well said, Hamish. We appreciate what you and your fellow photographers do, and continue to do! I live in a remote corner of the northeast Georgia (USA) mountains, where it’s easy to hold onto a sense of security. False hopes? Time will tell if being away from world travelers and large crowds will benefit we mountain folk statistically. Common sense caution and not panic should prevail. This “event” gives us family time, reading and prayer time … and time to scan that vast backlog of film images we’ve always wanted to digitize.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      March 23, 2020 at 4:33 pm

      Haha, yes! The digitisation thing. I’m really trying to work out how to get pixl-latr to people… I do feel like it could give a lot of people help with something to do.
      I certainly wish I was more cut off. I live in the outskirts of a city. My local shop is a very busy petrol station. It give me the wobbles just going there.

  • Reply
    Khürt Louis Williams
    March 23, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    Hamish, thanks for writing this. You put words to the thoughts with which I have struggled since I started full-time remote work (I usually WFH tow days a week) last week. Photograph and walking in nature are part of mental health therapy to help me manage my anxiety. Last weekend the governor of New Jersey imposed more restrictions. I am worried that soon I won’t even be able to walk on the local nature trails.

    it is surreal. I have been posting images without any text. I don’t have any words.

    Weather permitting, I’ll pop a roll of Ektachrome 100G in my Pentax P3 and go for a “physical distancing” walk mid-week.

    Stay safe. Stay sane.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      March 23, 2020 at 4:29 pm

      Good luck with it all, Khürt – surreal is definitely the word!

  • Reply
    Trev
    March 23, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    Keep on keeping it up, mate.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      March 23, 2020 at 4:26 pm

      👍

  • Reply
    Michael McD.
    March 23, 2020 at 7:35 pm

    Distraction is the name of the game here in the San Francisco Bay Area which is under lock down. Scary times since my business, with zero cash flow, will be done in two months time. I won’t make it to June 1st after 39 years. In the meantime I do go into the office to check for emergency messages, I have some camera repairs like a Kiev and an Exakta, I have my car collection, an article to write for Curbside Classic using film photos not digital, and I have rolls of B&W to develop.

  • Reply
    Harry Machold
    March 23, 2020 at 8:11 pm

    Hamish, thank you for your touching words here. I am happy to hear that you are fine, as far as one can say this on March 23rd of the year of 2020.
    But you are sounding good and encouraging.
    I am not in the position to give you the support you so much deserve; for just very personal reasons, But I know that this will change somehow in the months to come, despite of our friend Corona!
    But let me tell you, that 35mm is a site I read almost every day. and your serious about finding the perfect Sonnar type of lens I printed out completely which you may regard as a deep compliment from my side.
    Keep going please and be well.
    Thank you for so often sharing even the inner life of your lovely family with us.
    Keep safe and send my warm regards to your wife, Hamish
    With my deep respect and sincere thanks to you
    Harry

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      March 24, 2020 at 9:03 pm

      Thanks Harry, this comment made my day!

  • Reply
    Kevin Do
    March 23, 2020 at 10:07 pm

    Hi Hamish!

    Your article and words have inspired me to try and write something up for submission! I’ve been an avid 35mmc reader for years and have used countless articles from your words and others to influence my own photography. With how much you all have given to me, perhaps it’s time for me to reciprocate with my own perspective, experiences, and musings. Best to you and your family, and I hope everyone here stays safe

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      March 24, 2020 at 9:02 pm

      That’s great!! Just drop me an email and we can chat. And thanks 🙂

  • Reply
    Kosmo Foto wants your reviews and stories - Kosmo Foto
    March 24, 2020 at 9:39 am

    […] – then you might find writing something about the hobby you love is a welcome distraction. (Read this from 35mmc’s Hamish Gill, which says pretty much the same […]

  • Reply
    Richard Moore
    March 26, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    We just have to keep on keeping on. I’m a 62, living in the US , self employed and married to a nurse with very elderly in-laws living 6000 miles away back in Blighty. There’s plenty to worry about but frankly obsessing over the daily figures and the progress of the disease are things I can do very little about. So I’m taking the time to learn more about website development, photoshop and lightroom and taking the odd photo. Heck I might even manage to do some cataloguing of digitial images and file some of my negs.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      March 27, 2020 at 11:48 am

      Yeah, that’s my view – it hasn’t stopped me looking at the figures, but apart from being diligent about what I do on the rare occasion I go out, there is little I can do about it

  • Reply
    Dave Walker
    March 30, 2020 at 2:47 am

    You’re welcome to the quote, Hamish :o) In all honesty, I was quite pleased with the way that little turn of phrase came out!

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