I like travelling. I've done a lot of it, but mostly in my own time and at my own cost – so I appreciate the very rare occasions when CHOICE decides I need to be somewhere other than at my desk in Marrickville. Brussells is a very long way from my desk. So even the prospect of spending three or four days buried in databases and PowerPoint presentations didn't diminish the prospect of meeting with over 80 colleagues from all over the world, and indulging in a little tourist photography in Paris on the side.
CHOICE is part of a combined testing for digital cameras (and some other products that are the same the world over) through an umbrella organisation called International Consumer Research and Testing (ICRT). We do this because pooling resources is very cost effective and we can cover much more of the market than would otherwise be possible. The other benefit is that we get to work with specialists in the field who have vast experience and very deep knowledge of the products they're testing. They were testing cameras and camcorders for years before digital technology appeared on the market and have a wealth of experience to draw on. For a photography loving technophile like me it's about as good as work can get.
Much of what I learned over the two weeks is esoteric at best and certainly not something I'd want to bore anyone else with. It's just stuff I'll use to try to make the processes we use more efficient and thereby get the information out to our members faster. But there was something I rediscovered that wasn't on the agenda and that is just as important in terms of what photography is all about.
Flâner is French for wandering about without any specific purpose. Just going for a stroll is sometimes the best way to get to know a place and there are few more pleasant places to wander about with a camera than Paris in summer. The French are probably in the minority, but there's an upbeat mood about and a slightly intoxicating feel to the late blossom scented air. In this slightly heady mix people tend to relax, so finding images that carry the mood isn't a great challenge and there are very few people around who don't have a digital camera of some description in hand. Everywhere images are being made, poses taken next to iconic structures and all often shared instantly amongst friends gathered around the camera.
Increasingly, I think, it’s the image that motivates the walk. The mechanics of the photographic process are important because they allow you to capture more of what you want to remember or share, but ultimately cameras are only another communication device. Choosing the right Choosing the right one for you is as personal a decision as deciding what motivates you to take an image in the first place. Check out our article on digital camera reviews for more information.