If you have that obsession with camera gear that so many of us behold, you’ll want to check out the new book Tokyo Camera Style. It’s based on the website of the same name, which gathers snapshots of everyday folks and their coveted shooter of choice.
Published earlier this year by Thames & Hudson, Tokyo Camera Style is the brainchild of John Sypal, a photographer living in Japan who found himself asking attendees of various photo events if he could shoot the cameras they carried around. He’s been at it since 2008, and has amassed a beautifully uniform collection of images. As a website, Tokyo Camera Style was always a lot of fun. But as a book, it’s easier to appreciate the wonderful variation and personality of these artifacts we so lovingly wield.
From the book’s introduction, Sypal states:
Humans enjoy forming relationships with objects and the camera plays an important role in our lives — it helps establish and preserve memories. When used as an extension of our eye it aids in forming a better understanding of the world around us. A camera demands a tactile relationship in its partnership. It is something we need to dedicate both hands to — it’s something we put close to our faces and peer through. Around a neck or over a shoulder, it’s an object that we wear and are seen wearing. While there’s no doubt that many take pride in creating home-theatre setups or the perfect PC, our experience with a camera is quite different than passive consumption of media through a TV or computer. The bond between photographer and camera is closer in spirit to a loved bicycle or carefully cared-for automobile.
The book’s pages are a delight for camera nerds, especially those with a special place in their heart for film. It makes me sad about digital, to be honest. I love digital and use it for many things, but one thing that is incontrovertibly lost is the relationship with the camera as object. The utility of a digital camera is on an inevitable decline the minute you start using it. You may use it for five years or ten, then keep it stored away as a memento. But fifty years from now you will not be taking your current digital camera out to shoot with, like people do with their Leicas today.