My name is Ty Francis and I wanted to share my kit and how I got to this point with all of you. I shot with a lot of different cameras but I finally am at the point were I can say that I love making images. It wasn’t always this way and I wanted to share the journey with you all.
I grew up in Southern California and I never took a photograph when I was younger. Actually my family rarely even took pictures at all, I only know of a handful of pictures of me growing up, but I actually never gave it a second thought, and chalked it up to reasons for me to live “in the moment”.
I ended up moving to NYC to do some non profit work, and prior to leaving, I discovered my stepdad’s old Minolta and some dusty zooms. I asked permission, he lent me the camera, and off I went.
At NYC, I was a big hit, a young photographer that moved across the country with just a backpack and his camera! How romantic and daring! I must admit, I looked sufficiently hip but in reality I had no idea what I was doing.The shots mostly came back over exposed, under exposed, or out of focus. I even had one of the photo lab technicians say to me “Sorry, I tried to save what I could but this all that came out…” and then give me a discount based on my usable shots. When I was lucky, I got a few usable pictures in one roll, maybe. Then finally a few months later, on a very cold winter night, something in the camera snapped and I stopped shooting. I didn’t even care, I had enough pictures to fool the ladies and I returned the camera after repair.
Fast forward a few years and I haven’t taken a pic. I was doing a lot of things that I wish I documented, what was supposed to be a year stay in NYC ended being much longer, I got into a college on a scholarship and was working at various different non profits. Those memories of building homes, teaching students and friends that came and gone are now memories I wish I preserved but honestly, back then I was still resolved to “Never look back”.
I don’t know what finally got me to pick up that used Nikon D40 with a kit lens, but it wasn’t love at first sight for sure. I quickly traded it in for a D80, then a D90. I shot a few pictures (note:the very first picture on my website is made with this camera) but quickly ended up selling because I just wasn’t very good and I couldn’t justify the cost on the budget I was living on. Another year passed
Finally I ended up picking up a Nikon D7000 brand new with kit lens and that was the first time I started challenging myself photographically. But it wasn’t love of images that pushed me but rather a love of gear. That camera started a bout of G.A.S that lasted years. I bought and traded lenses, and unfortunately (or fortunately) NYC is a great place to do this. After trying out most all of the APS-C Nikkor Lenses, I transitioned to the D600 and did it all again with the full frame lenses.
My photography was adequate enough to justify (to myself) my spending habits and sometimes I even ended up making money! But the downside was that I ended up hating using cameras. It sucked all of the joy (which I admittedly never had to begin with) but rather than realize that it was because I was too wrapped up in gear, I instead blamed it on the big and heavy camera and looked for lighter options.
I’m sure you can tell how this went, in short I ended up getting a RX1, then a OMD EM-5, Nikon Coolpix A, Sigma DP Merrill, and others plus a bunch of lenses. I also started picking some film cameras to play around with. Seriously considered getting into medium format. My photography did get better but most of my time was on craigslist rather than shooting.
Then finally something changed. Or rather two things changed. First I got a Leica M9P, this camera taught me so many things, and made me finally get into a shooting style that suited me. A little slower, and I still missed a lot of shots because of the manual focus but I finally felt in control and I absolutely loved the form factor and shooting with primes. I have had more shots with this camera that I enjoyed than any of the others before. Now its easy to attribute this to the Leica mystique, but now in actuality it has nothing to do with the camera but because of the second thing. I fell in love.
It was around this time that I met the girl that I want to marry. Suddenly memories mattered to me. To many, my images are something to be liked on Facebook, maybe glanced over, at best a small distraction from work or school, whereas others might have seen the technical flaws, exposure or composition issues, stupid filters and dismissed this amateurs clumsy attempts at photography. But I didn’t care. I loved this woman and I wanted to share my life with her.
I wanted to remember every step of the way.
Like the Grinch’s heart in Dr. Suess’ tale, my love for photography grew. I not only shot her but also the places we went to and the memories we made there. I started taking photos for myself. The images finally mattered more than my gear.
Which finally brings me to my bag (if you are still here) and what’s in it:
14mm 2.8 Fujifilm XF
23mm 1.4 Fujifilm XF
32mm 1.8 Zeiss XF
15mm 4.5 Voightlander Screw Mount (w/ M adapter)
Billingham Hadley Small
Ilford Delta 100
Ilford HP5 Plus 400
Misc Camera Gear:
Cheap wireless flash setup (not shown)
15mm Voightlander FInder
Microsoft Surface 3
Sony Experia Z3
Oliver Peoples Eyeglasses
Pocket Knife (forgot brand)
And that’s it! I wanted to thank you for reading and for being interested in my story and kit.
Oh and where’s the Leica? I sold it so we can get the funds to start our life together in California.
The best decision I ever made.
Thanks for sharing you bag with us, Ty. A lovely story too.
Check it out and make sure you come and comment.
Keep them coming folks, we need more submissions, so get your bag on Japancamerahunter.com. Send me a hi resolution image of the bag. Optimum size is 620×473. Please ensure there is a bag in the shot, unless you don’t use one. The more you can write about yourself the better, make it appealing and tell us a story. Oh and don’t forget your contact details (twitter, flickr, tumbler et al). Send the bag shots here. Please understand that there is a long wait now as there is a backlog of submissions. Not all make the cut, so make sure yours is funny/interesting/quirky. And please make sure the shot is of good quality, as the ones that are not do not go up.